Duke Energy Reaches 10,000-MW Renewable Energy Milestone
With the 144-MW Pflugerville Solar facility recently coming online, Duke Energy reached a significant milestone — it now owns, operates, or purchases more than 10,000 MW of solar and wind energy throughout the United States from both its regulated and unregulated businesses.
Duke Energy's renewables portfolio includes nearly 200 sites in 22 states, with more than 1000 MW of new projects under construction throughout the country, including Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas. At peak output, the company’s current renewables portfolio capacity generates enough energy to serve the equivalent of approximately 2.4 million homes and businesses.
“Renewables are playing a major role as we make strong progress toward our ambitious climate goals of at least 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050,” said Brian Savoy, Duke Energy’s executive vice president, chief strategy and commercial officer. “This next decade will be our biggest ever, and we’re well on our way to exceeding our decarbonization goals by growing our renewables portfolio to 16 GW by 2025 and 24 GW by 2030.”
In addition to carbon reduction and the benefits of creating a diverse energy infrastructure, solar and wind development fosters economic development and job creation in the areas that Duke Energy serves. Currently, Duke Energy employs nearly 700 wind and solar technicians, project developers, support staff, and third-party contract workers, and provides more than US$29 million in annual lease payments to local landowners. Additionally, at peak construction, renewable energy development generates hundreds of jobs in the communities where projects are located.
“For more than a decade, Duke Energy has been delivering low-cost renewable power to our customers,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “These projects deliver significant economic and environmental benefits while providing unique sustainability solutions for our customers and communities.”
Located in Travis County, Texas, the 144-MW Pflugerville Solar project is the fifth utility scale solar facility that Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions,* a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy, has placed in commercial operation in the state. Earlier this year, it also announced the construction of a sixth solar facility, the 250-MW Pisgah Ridge Solar project in Navarro County, Texas, which is expected to achieve commercial operation by the end of 2022.
The energy generated from the Pflugerville Solar project will be sold to Austin Energy under a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
Austin Energy, the city of Austin’s electric utility, serves more than 528,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. This PPA supports Austin Energy’s renewable energy goals.
“We currently meet about 70% of our customers’ energy needs with carbon-free resources,” said Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent. “Adding the Pflugerville Solar project to our portfolio will bring us closer to meeting our affordability and climate protection goals adopted by the Austin City Council and championed by our customers.”
Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions acquired the project from Recurrent Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., in December 2020.
The 932-acre site, which contains approximately 489,600 Canadian Solar high-efficiency bifacial BiKu modules, will generate enough energy to power approximately 27,000 homes.
The engineering and construction for the project were performed by Signal Energy, and Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will provide long-term operations and maintenance services to the project.
During peak construction, the project employed 350 workers, with at least 50% of those construction jobs filled by local skilled tradesmen from the Travis County area. Along with indirect economic benefits that accompany solar project development, such as increased local spending in the service and construction industries, Pflugerville Solar will also have a positive economic impact on the local community by providing significant tax revenues for Travis County and the Elgin Independent School District.
Duke Energy has set a goal of reaching 16,000 MW of renewables by 2025 and 47,000 MW by 2050.
Renewable energy projects currently under development in the company’s regulated and nonregulated footprint include: