By Steven Bushong
This article originally appeared on Solar Power World Online, and is reprinted with permission
A partnership between Duke Energy, the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps will lead to a 13-megawatt (AC) solar facility being built at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Onslow County, N.C.
The facility will be owned and operated by Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and is expected online in 2015. It will help Duke Energy further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy mix and meet the N.C. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.
“This project strengthens Duke Energy’s commitment to bring more solar power to our customers, while advancing the Department of the Navy’s (DON) interest in installing more renewable energy at military bases around the U.S.,” said Duke Energy’s Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources.
Covering 80 acres, the 13-MW solar facility (or 17 MW DC) will connect to the electric grid at a DEP-owned substation on military property. The power will be available to DEP customers. Camp Lejeune will continue to purchase power from DEP.
“Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus set an aggressive but critical goal for the DON to produce or procure one gigawatt of renewable energy by the end of 2015,” said Robert M. Griffin, executive director of the Department of the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office. “Through an effective partnership with DEP, and once both parties sign the lease agreement, the project at Camp Lejeune will be another opportunity to bring renewable energy online, providing greater resource availability, and diversity for Camp Lejeune and the surrounding community.”
Crowder Construction Services, based in Charlotte, will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor. The project will use monocrystalline solar panels supplied by SolarWorld Americas, based in Oregon. GE’s Power Conversion business will supply its Brilliance 2-stage Ultra tracking inverters to be built out of their Pittsburgh facility.
When the sun is shining, the new project could provide power to about 3,000 homes. To proceed, Duke Energy must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the N.C. Utilities Commission.
Currently, Duke Energy purchases about 500 MW of solar capacity for its North Carolina customers.
In December 2014, Duke Energy received regulatory approval for a $500 million expansion of solar energy for its customers – including three facilities the company will own and operate, totaling 128 megawatts.
The company will also purchase 150 megawatts of power from five other large-scale solar facilities.
Duke Energy is a leader in renewable energy, with wind and solar facilities in 12 states. The company’s efforts have contributed to North Carolina’s No. 4 ranking in the nation for installed solar power.