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Duke Energy has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 300 MW of new solar energy capacity in its Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress territories. The new capacity would be in service by the end of 2015.

The RFP says bidders may offer power and associated renewable energy certificates, and/or provide a "turnkey solution" in which Duke Energy takes ownership of a new facility. The utility says the RFP will help it diversify its energy mix and meet North Carolina's renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standards (REPS).

"This proposal will practically double our current solar capacity for customers in the Carolinas," says Rob Caldwell, vice president of renewable generation development for Duke Energy. "It gives developers the opportunity to pursue projects for the long term, or to negotiate for Duke Energy to acquire ownership of the new facilities once they are operational."

The company's RFP is targeting solar facilities greater than 5 MW. It is limited to projects that are in the company's current transmission and distribution queue, as those have a realistic chance to be completed by the end of 2015. Duke Energy affiliates will not be allowed to participate in the RFP.

Caldwell says there are many eligible projects representing more than 2.5 GW of capacity being proposed in the state by solar developers.

"Our mission is to bring more renewable generation onto the Duke Energy system in the most cost-effective manner possible," Caldwell says. "This RFP allows the company to take advantage of projects already in the planning stages."

North Carolina's REPS allows for renewable energy facilities connected to the Carolinas system to meet the state's compliance obligations. As a result, facilities in South Carolina will be eligible to submit proposals for the power and associated renewable energy certificates if they meet other criteria in the RFP.

Caldwell says the company hopes to have projects selected and negotiations completed by Oct. 1. More information about the Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress RFP can be viewed here.

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