The Florida state utility authorities have reportedly extended their support to Duke Energy’s plans for the construction of 10 solar plants through the next four years, in spite of some concerns related to costs and size.
According to reliable sources, the Public Service Commission backed Duke Energy’s “Clean Energy Connection Program” in a 4-1 vote. The program will enable customers to make additional voluntary payments on their electricity bills for helping finance the solar projects. In return, customers will be getting credits that would enable them to secure a payback in nearly seven years.
While Duke’s plan consists of some clients voluntarily paying more upfront on their bills for backing the expansion, regulators argue that the initiative would benefit all of their clients as the solar projects would ultimately bring about a reduction in the requirement for developing costly natural gas plants, supporting the reduction of carbon emissions.
As per sources, the Duke project comprises the development of 10 solar plants each having a capacity of 74.9 MW. Of these, two plants are set to come online in January 2022, with four others set up in January 2023, and the remaining four to be established in January 2024. The costs of these plants are estimated to range from $102 million to $113 million.
Over these years, FPL, Duke, and other utilities have been on the lookout for ways to dramatically increase their solar energy deployments, amid pressure for the reduction of carbon emissions and facilities becoming more cost-effective.
As opined by the Public Service Commission Chairman, Gary Clark, a substantial amount of funds would be coming back to the general body of ratepayers over a long period of time. The Chairman has also emphasized his belief that the program does fulfil the public-interest test, highlighting that there would be significant benefits from the renewable energy perspective.