Duke Energy's solar panel plan approved

The state Utilities Commission on Wednesday approved Duke Energy's plan to place solar panels on hundreds of N.C. rooftops.

The $50 million plan will help Duke meet state requirements to generate electricity from renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind and plants. Duke expects to generate eight megawatts of electricity from panels at up to 425 sites, enough to power 1,300 homes, within two years.

Duke has estimated average residential power bills will go up about 8 cents a month under the plan.

In approving the proposal, the commission ruled that Duke could not recover its full costs under the state renewable-energy standard. The standard requires that solar power produce a small percentage of Duke's overall output beginning in 2010.

Duke had already cut in half its original $100 million, 16-megawatt solar rooftop plan after objections from the Utilities Commission's Public Staff, which represents consumers.

The first proposal, coupled with Duke's plan to also buy the 16-megawatt output of a solar farm to be built in Davidson County, meant the utility would produce much more solar power than the state requires, the staff said. That, in turn, could limit the amount of other types of renewable energy Duke generates or buys and lead to wider use of conventional, polluting power plants, it said.

Read the complete story at