Duke Energy Carolinas will purchase the entire electricity output of the nation's largest photovoltaic (PV) solar farm to be built in Davidson County, N.C., north of Charlotte.

Under agreements signed with SunEdison, customers of Duke Energy Carolinas will purchase electricity from a PV project with an expected nameplate capacity of 18 MW (AC) or 21.5 MW (DC). SunEdison will start operating the solar farm in 2010, and the agreements run for 20 years.

“We said we wanted to lead the way in the development of more renewable energy and we meant it,” says Keith Trent, group executive and chief strategy, policy and regulatory officer for Duke Energy Carolinas. “Today's agreements, coupled with the other significant initiatives across our company, clearly demonstrate that renewable energy has an important place in our power generation portfolio.”

The PV solar farm will consist of 36 individual solar PV structures, located at a single site. Construction is anticipated to start early in the third quarter of 2009.

In addition to purchasing renewable energy from other providers, Duke Energy is advancing plans for its own distributed solar generation program. Distributed generation is energy created close to where it is used, rather than being produced in large power plants and sent to customers over the power grid. The company plans a filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission in the near future that will seek approval for the program, and the authority to recover its investment. Under the plan, Duke Energy would install and operate distributed solar generation on customer rooftops and other spaces.