Duke Energy will build three utility owned and operated solar projects in Kentucky. Construction will start by the end of the summer and the projects are likely to be on line by early 2018, Duke says.
This will be the fourth state in which a Duke regulated utility owns its own solar farms. Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress own more than half a dozen projects in North Carolina. Duke Energy Florida and Duke Energy Indiana each have a few solar farms.
The Duke utilities in Ohio and South Carolina do not own any of their own solar projects, says spokesman Randy Wheeless. But Duke has plans to build project in its South Carolina utilities.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission says the three projects are expected to coast a combined $14.8 million.
Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, says the timing is right for utility-owned solar in Kentucky.
“The cost of building solar projects has come down significantly in recent years, making it more cost-competitive with other sources of power generation,” he says. “And solar gives us the ability to add power capacity in (smaller) incremental steps – allowing us to match the growing demand for electricity in the region.”
Duke Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp., will build two projects in Kenton County. The Walton Solar Power Plant 1 and Walton Solar Power Plant will comprise 19,000 panels on a combined 60 acres. Together they will have the capacity to produce more than 4 megawatts of electricity.
The third project, the Crittenden Solar Power Plant, is the largest. It will have 12,500 panels on 110 acres in Grant County. It will produce more than 2.7 megawatts of power.
“Our customers want solar, and solar is something we’ve thoroughly studied and prioritized in our long-term planning, Henning says.
Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial arm of the parent company, operates about 600 megawatts of solar in seven states outside its regulated utilities.