Developer accuses Duke Energy of illegally restricting solar power deals
Cypress Creek Renewables says Duke Energy has abruptly decided to refuse long-term power-purchase agreements for larger, utility-scale solar projects in violation federal and state law.
The California-based solar company filed a formal complaint against Duke with the N.C. Utilities Commission Friday afternoon. In it, Cypress Creek accuses Duke of suddenly refusing to make power contracts for anything more than five years for projects larger than five megawatts as a gambit to promote its own proposal to state regulators for radically changing how N.C. solar projects are developed.
Duke contends that there is no precise definition of “long-term” for the power-purchase agreements at issue in the complaint. And it says it made its decision to go to five-year contracts to protect its customers.
The complaint is the latest round in an escalating battle between Charlotte-based Duke and the solar industry over the future what has been a surprisingly robust industry in North Carolina.
Duke (NYSE: DUK) wants the commission to end solar development promoted under the federal Power Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) and replace it with annual bids for projects under the control of the utilities.
This latest turn takes aim squarely at the large-scale projects. Projects that size — commonly 20 to 80 megawatts — are increasingly favored by the largest developers active in North Carolina, such as Cypress Creek and Chapel Hill’s Strata Solar.