Duke Energy — hardly your conventional renewable energy startup — has thrown its hat in the solar ring with a $100 million investment in commercial-scale rooftop solar panels.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, based electric utility will partner with commercial and residential property owners to tap into a growing market that has seen large investments in recent months from major utilities like Southern California Edison, which unveiled its own $875 million rooftop project in late March.
Like SCE, Duke plans on tying its panels into the existing grid; it will sell of the excess power generated by its customers as if it were power from one of its plants. Wind energy, another potential alternative, would be less likely because the farms would have to be built along the coast or along the Carolinas’ western mountain ridge lines — a proposal environmental groups would not “salute,” CEO Jim Rogers quipped. Duke Energy Indiana, however, recently started selling electricity produced by a privately-held wind farm.
Duke could eventually own solar panels outright, Rogers said: The idea here would be to blend its solar capacity with its nuclear and coal infrastructures.