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Duke Energy proposes two new programs to help customers use renewable energy

The Monroe solar farm, on about 400 acres off South Rocky River Road, has about 684,000 solar panels.
David Boraks
The proposed program would let big customers buy solar energy from either third-party solar farms or those run by Duke Energy, like this farm in Monroe, in Union County.

Duke Energy has asked North Carolina regulators to approve the expansion of a program that lets large customers contract for renewable energy. The Charlotte-based utility company also wants to offer renewable energy credits to customers who want to support the shift to clean energy to fight climate change.

The proposed Green Source Advantage Choice program is required by the state's 2021 energy reform law. It would build a pilot program that began in 2019.

If approved, it would help companies, municipalities and other large customers use solar or wind power to meet their climate goals.

"It's what they want. And so we've modified it to meet a couple of key needs of what we know would be important," said Wendi Fleener, Duke's Director of Clean Energy.

The new program would let customers contract up to 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy over the next 10 years or so. That's more than 10 times the capacity of the current pilot.

The current program has just four customers: the city of Charlotte, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Duke University. None have completed projects yet, mainly because of solar supply chain and cost issues.

The new version would allow customers to contract with either Duke Energy or third-party solar or wind developers for up to 100% of their energy use, instead of 30%.

The new Green Source Advantage Choice program would also add an option for battery storage, which would help companies use renewable energy 24 hours a day, instead of just when there's sun or wind.

In a separate filing, Duke also proposed a separate program called Clean Energy Impact. It would give businesses and consumers the option to buy renewable energy credits that would allow them to support solar and wind development.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.