Duke Energy expands solar stake from NC to SC

Duke Energy, purported big customer of FPL and Spectra’s Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle, is expanding into solar financing for commercial projects, and from North Carolina into South Carolina. After even FPL’s parent bought a Hawaii utility to get into the solar game, why would anybody want to waste time, money, eminent domain land takings, trees cut down, or the hazards of sinkholes, leaks, and explosions near schools and businesses when we can all go straight to faster, cheaper, and far safer and cleaner solar power?

First this: Jennifer Runyon, Renewable Energy World, 9 February 2015, Duke Energy Takes Equity Stake in REC Solar, Embraces Distributed Generation: The move gives REC Solar a cash injection, $225 million in funds available to finance commercial projects, and a streamlined process to deliver solar projects more quickly.,

The largest utility in the U.S. is doubling down on distributed solar by taking an equity stake in commercial solar developer, REC Solar. The companies announced today that Duke will now own a majority stake of REC Solar and that together they will make it easier for commercial customers to go solar. In 2013, Duke Energy invested in Clean Power Finance, a company that provides financial services and software to the distributed solar industry.

Today’s annoucement “is a great thing. Fantastic news for the entire company,” said Allan Bucknam, CEO of REC solar. Bucknam said that the partnership would simplify the process of going solar for small commercial customers, a market for which he sees great potential. “Over the past decade, a typical commercial sale has been a slow process,” he explained. With this announcement there will now be “a pre-defined document between us and Duke,” he said.

That article likens what Duke is doing for small commercial customers to what SolarCity is doing with financing for residential rooftop solar.

And the next day this: Staff Report, GSA Business, 10 February 2015, Duke Energy proposes solar programs for S.C.,

One day after announcing its purchase of majority interest in a solar equipment installer, Duke Energy is proposing new solar programs for customers in South Carolina. The programs stemming from a December agreement with state regulators and environmentalists expand options for customers to use renewable energy….

A mid-December agreement supported by utilities, the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, businesses and environmental groups set a 60-day deadline for utilities to propose a net metering program.

The utility’s proposals include rebates to customers who install rooftop or small-scale solar on their property. A typical rooftop installation could earn rebates of about $5,000 under the program. The rebates will help customers with the initial investment. Customers with rooftop solar installations will still get retail net metering for the next 10 years, which means the price to sell excess energy to the utility will be the same price at which the utility sells the power to its customers.

Customers who often are unable to participate in renewable energy options — including nonprofit organizations, churches, community centers, renters and schools — will be able to subscribe to a specific solar facility and share in the economic benefits of the power produced.

You already can’t drive down I-95 in North Carolina without seeing solar farms, with county governments changing their building codes to make that easier and the NC business press saying solar benefits outweight costs. With these new moves by Duke Energy, we’ll see even more of that, and in South Carolina, too.

Meanwhile, the Georgia House unanimously passed a solar financing bill.

Get on board, Florida! The solar train is shining down the coast to you. Hop off that dirty antique pipeline and get on the solar train to a clean and prosperous future.

-jsq

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