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US electric power holding company Duke Energy has made a US$500 million commitment to the expansion of solar energy in North Carolina.

This move is the final result of Duke Energy’s request for proposals (RFP) that was issued in February 2014 and will see the company construct three PV facilities – totaling 128MW of capacity – which will be built in Bladen, Duplin and Wilson counties.

One of the plants – the 65MW Warsaw Solar Facility – will be the largest PV plant east of the Mississippi River upon completion.

Markus Wilhelm, chief executive officer of Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar, said: “We are very excited to be working with Duke Energy on this tremendous solar project. Three years ago, we celebrated with Duke Energy at the completion of our first 5-megawatt solar farm in Cleveland County – and Strata recently passed the 325-megawatt mark with more than 65 farms generating power in the Southeast. We take a lot of pride in our work, and we are thrilled to be announcing this partnership between Strata Solar and Duke Energy on what will be the largest solar farm on the East Coast."

Duke Energy also signed power purchase agreements with five new PV plants in the state – totaling out to 150MW of capacity.

Rob Caldwell, senior vice president of Distributed Energy Resources, said: “This is Duke Energy's largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers. We are bringing large amounts of renewable energy onto our system in the most cost-effective way possible."