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Duke Energy looking for suppliers of solar panels

CHARLOTTE ó Duke Energy Carolinas is seeking bids from solar power companies to supply solar panels, electrical equipment and installation services as part of the utility’s proposed $100 million North Carolina solar plan.
Starting in early 2009, Duke Energy wants to install electricity-generating photovoltaic solar panels at up to 850 North Carolina sites, including homes, schools, office buildings, shopping malls, warehouses and large manufacturing facilities ó both on roofs and on the ground.
Electricity generated through the program would total at least 16 megawatts óenough to power 2,600 homes ó after the solar power is converted from direct to alternating current.
The proposal, first announced in June, requires approval by the N.C. Utilities Commission before it can be implemented.
Duke Energy would own and, through contractors, install and maintain the solar panels. The utility also would own the electricity generated, which would be sent to the electrical grid that serves all customers.
The company would compensate homeowners, businesses and other entities that offer their roofs or land for the program, based on the size of the installation and amount of electricity generated at each location.
The solar plan would be Duke Energy’s first large-scale involvement in distributed generation, in which electricity is generated close to customers rather than at large, centralized power plants.
Contingent on regulatory approval, the company proposes to complete all installations by late 2010, and each installation should have a useful life of 20 to 25 years.
Duke Energy would contract with one or more companies that specialize in solar technology to supply and install the necessary materials and equipment at all sites.
Companies interested in bidding on the project can visit Duke Energy’s renewable energy web page ó duke-energy.com/environment/renewable-energy.asp ó then click on North Carolina Solar Distributed Generation Program.
In addition to its solar distributed generation plan, Duke Energy in the past four months also has announced a series of other renewable and clean- energy initiatives, including:
– Purchase of the entire electricity output (16 megawatts) from what will be one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic solar power plants, to be built in Davidson County during the next two years.
– A partnership with General Motors and other utilities to help lay the groundwork for the large-scale launch of plug-in electric vehicles, starting in 2010.
– Purchase of a large wind company ó Vermont-based Catamount Energy ó which has 283 net megawatts of wind power in operation and another 1,750 megawatts under development.
– A request for proposals from renewable energy developers to supply significant amounts of electricity to Duke Energy customers in Ohio.
– Purchase of the entire electricity output from a power plant fueled by methane gas naturally emitted from decaying garbage at a closed Durham landfill. The facility will produce enough electricity to serve 1,600 homes.

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