American City To Develop 35 MW Solar Farm Under Utility Program

The Charlotte City Council’s approval for the city to procure power from a 35 MW solar farm by directly contracting a developer might create a ripple effect inspiring cities and communities to follow suit for their renewable energy needs, said WRI and RMI that helped Charlotte in the effort. (Photo Credit: City of Charlotte/Twitter)
American City To Develop 35 MW Solar Farm Under Utility Program
  • Charlotte City Council approves plan to develop 35 MW solar farm under Duke Energy's GSA Program
  • It allows the city to purchase new renewable energy by directly selecting developer and negotiating tariffs with power to be supplied via utility grid
  • Carolina Solar Energy and Ecoplexus, selected under a competitive procurement process, will develop the project in Statesville suburbs
  • The project will come online in 2022 and help the city create local jobs while offsetting about 25% of carbon emissions from city-owned buildings over the next 20 years

The city of Charlotte in North Carolina, US will be purchasing solar power from a 35 MW solar power plant. It will partner with local solar developers Carolina Solar Energy and Ecoplexus to develop the plant under the Duke Energy Green Source Advantage (GSA) Program, the city council announced. This makes Charlotte the country's most 'populous' and the 'largest' US city to acquire new renewable energy through a utility green tariff.

Under its GSA Program, Duke Energy has set aside 600 MW of renewable energy for large business customers to choose a renewable energy supplier and directly negotiate tariffs for any desirable contract period. Power is supplied via Duke Energy grid as the utility signs a contract with the developer.

Both Carolina Solar Energy and Ecoplexus were selected by the city under a competitive procurement process to develop the planned 35 MW project.

The City of Charlotte was helped by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) as part of the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator.

"Charlotte's purchase isn't so huge in the grand scheme of large-scale renewables. But it's the structure of the deal that's interesting," said RMI experts. "It's a proof-of-concept that shows that big cities, even those in states without electric retail choice, can work with utilities to deliver win-win deals that meet environmental, economic, and social goals."

The 35 MW utility scale project is expected to come online in the suburbs of Statesville by 2022 helping the city offset about 25% of carbon emissions from city-owned buildings over the next 20 years. This is significant since under its Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP) the city targets to achieve 100% zero carbon municipal buildings and fleet by 2030. It will generate enough clean power to annually supply 10,000 homes over its 20-year term.

The city will be able to save close to $2 million in electricity costs and avoid $20 million in regional health care expenses due to better air quality. Over 400 local jobs are likely to be created through this project and part of the land to be used for the purpose will be purchased directly from a non-profit.

Stressing the importance of this deal, that might cause a ripple effect of similar initiatives, WRI says, "Why is this collaboration important? The GSA program is indicative of the evolution of green tariffs, which are increasingly designed with flexibility and the opportunity for customer input. Given these features, Charlotte was able to take a leading role in selecting the resource, ensuring it could meet specific municipal priorities such as workforce development and support of local businesses."

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