Duke Energy Acquires First Commercial Solar Power Project

Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS), a Duke Energy Commercial Businesses unit that owns and develops renewable power assets, will purchase the Blue Wing Solar Project from juwi solar Inc., based in Boulder, Colo. The 14-megawatt (16-megawatt direct current) project will consist of 214,500 ground-mounted First Solar thin film panels.

"Demand for power from renewable resources continues to rise," said Keith Trent, group executive and president of Duke Energy’s Commercial Businesses. "Our entry into the commercial solar power industry reaffirms Duke Energy’s commitment to generating emissions-free electricity for customers."

With the acquisition comes a 30-year power purchase agreement to sell all of the output from the solar farm and associated renewable energy credits to San Antonio-based CPS Energy, one of the largest municipality-owned utilities in the U.S.

"Duke Energy’s acquisition of the Blue Wing Solar Project adds an exciting new dimension to our renewable power business," said Wouter van Kempen, president of DEGS. "We took our wind energy business from zero megawatts to more than 730 megawatts in under three years, so I’m very confident we can grow our solar power business."

Construction will follow the close of the acquisition, which is expected in the first quarter of 2010. The 139-acre project is expected to be completed and energized by the fourth quarter of 2010. No other terms were disclosed.

Blue Wing will be the first commercial solar power project Duke Energy will own and operate. Duke Energy Carolinas, part of the company’s regulated business, is installing solar panels on select business and residential customers’ rooftops as part of a $50 million program.

Duke Energy owns and operates 733 megawatts (MW) of commercial wind power generation – a figure that will rise to nearly 1,000 MW by the end of 2010. In total, the company has committed more than $1 billion since 2007 to build its wind energy business.

Although Duke Energy plans to wholly own the Blue Wing project, the company continues to look for opportunities to jointly develop commercial solar power projects in the U.S. with China-based ENN Group, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2009.

Duke Energy Generation Services, part of Duke Energy’s Commercial Businesses, is a leader in developing innovative renewable energy solutions, including wind, solar and biopower projects. DEGS builds, owns and operates electric generation for large energy consumers, municipalities, utilities and industrial facilities. DEGS is also working to build commercial transmission capacity to help the U.S. meet its energy needs of the future.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK.