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Duke Energy (DUK) Plans a Second Solar Plant in Florida

Duke Energy CorporationDUK has announced plans to construct a 5 megawatt ("MW") solar facility in Perry, FL, close on the heels of the announcement of the 3.8 MW solar facility in Osceola County.

The facility will be constructed on 20 acres of utility-owned land, adjacent to the 230-kilovolt ("kV") Duke Energy Perry Substation to facilitate connectivity to the grid, without the need to construct extensive lines or additional easements.

The project, to be developed, owned and operated by Duke Energy, will approximately utilize 22,000 solar panels. Construction of this facility is expected to commence in December and reach completion in May 2016.

In the light of declining cost of solar energy, Duke Energy is increasing its investment in this resource to provide customers with affordable clean energy. The company is also seeking sites to build additional solar facilities which it expects to announce in the forthcoming months. Meanwhile, the Perry project is part of the company's long-term strategic plan to install a 35 MW of solar plant by 2018 and up to 500 MW facility by 2024 in Florida.

The company's new solar facilities will supplement a new combined-cycle natural gas plant to be constructed in Citrus County, an upgrade of a combined-cycle energy complex in Polk County and the purchase of the Osprey Energy Center, also in Polk County.

In Aug 2015, Duke Energy issued a request for proposals (RFP) to bring into service 53 MW of utility-scale solar capacity in South Carolina. The proposal is aimed at ensuring the supply of solar power in the company's service areas in the region by the end of 2016. This is a step forward in the solar energy development plan designed under the South Carolina Distributed Energy Resource Program Act (read: Duke Energy Looks for Solar Capacity in South Carolina ).

These projects will allow the company to meet the additional energy requirement by its customers beginning 2018 and to retire half of its coal-fired fleet in Florida by that same year.

In view of the rising awareness, regulatory compulsion and the timing of solar investment credits that have triggered the solar boom in the electric utility space in the U.S, Duke Energy plans to invest about $3 billion in renewable energy over the next five years. The company has already invested more than $4 billion in wind and solar facilities across 12 states over the past eight years.

The company expects its portfolio of wind and solar to witness tremendous growth backed by a projected investment of about $2 billion over the next three years. It also expects about 2000 MW of wind and solar electricity generation by 2015.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Duke Energy currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked companies in the utility sector include DTE Energy Company DTE , American Electric Power Co. AEP and Alliant Energy Corporation LNT , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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