Groundbreaking at the 6.4-megawatt (DC) Murfreesboro Solar Project (equivalent to 5 MW AC) is expected this spring. When completed in late 2011, the solar farm will be capable of generating enough electricity to power about 700 average-sized homes.
GreenCo Solutions, a company owned by 22 electric cooperatives, will buy all renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by the facility to assist its members in meeting their solar power requirement under the state's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). GreenCo executed a 20-year purchase agreement with Duke Energy Renewables, a newly renamed part of Duke Energy's unregulated, commercial business.
The electricity produced by the solar farm will be purchased by NCEMC, the power supply organization for the majority of the state's electric cooperatives, under a 20-year agreement.
Duke Energy Renewables acquired the Murfreesboro project in December 2010 from SunPower Corp., which designed and will build the solar photovoltaic system. SunPower will mount nearly 20,000 high-efficiency crystalline silicon panels at the site on SunPower T0 Tracker® technology. T0 Trackers use a global positioning satellite system to follow the sun's movement during the day. This increases sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.
"We are pleased to announce our participation in one of the state's largest solar projects," said Rick Thomas, CEO of NCEMC and GreenCo Solutions. "This project will provide 20 years of clean, renewable electricity to our members and help GreenCo cooperatives meet the solar requirements of the N.C. REPS."
"Duke Energy Renewables is committed to helping our valued customers incorporate renewable energy into their long-term plans," said Greg Wolf, Duke Energy Renewables president. "Through this power purchase agreement, GreenCo and NCEMC's member cooperatives have locked in renewable energy certificates and a supply of affordable, zero-emissions electricity for decades to come."
"Solar photovoltaic technology is a reliable, cost-effective energy resource that can be installed anywhere — from rooftops to power plants," said Howard Wenger, president of SunPower's utility and power plants business group. "SunPower's world-leading high-efficiency technology and history of reliable performance will maximize the solar energy delivered to NCEMC's customers."
The solar farm will be constructed on roughly 37 acres of leased land near Murfreesboro, which is approximately 120 miles northeast of Raleigh, N.C.
The Murfreesboro Solar Project is Duke Energy Renewables' third commercial solar farm in North Carolina and fourth nationwide. Duke Energy Renewables' initiatives are separate from the activities of Duke Energy Carolinas, which is part of Duke Energy's regulated business.