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Duke Energy Florida proposes new program providing solar access to customers while lowering bills over time

2020-07-01 18:35 ET - News Release

- Program will connect customers to cost-effective, large-scale solar energy
- Residential and small business customers can go 100% solar

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy Florida (DEF) today filed a proposed new Clean Energy Connection (CEC) Program with the Florida Public Service Commission.

The announcement is the latest advancement in Duke Energy's commitment to solar energy.

If approved by the commission, the program will provide Duke Energy Florida customers with about 750 megawatts (MW) of new, cost-effective solar power – offering more options for qualified residential, business and local government customers to share in a slice of the company's solar energy production on a voluntary basis.

Duke Energy plans to invest an estimated $1 billion in its new solar power plants across Florida in the next three years. The first plants will go online in 2022 and more will follow through 2024.

"The Clean Energy Connection Program is delivering on what our customers want – affordable clean energy options. It will be a measurable way for customers to share in reducing carbon emissions," said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida state president. "We know that larger-scale solar is the most cost-effective way to get the benefits of solar on our entire system and this program gives customers, especially those who may not have the ability to install solar at home, a compelling alternative to rooftop panels."

The program directly supports the development and construction of new cost-effective, utility-owned, solar power plants interconnected to the Florida power grid.

"We appreciate Duke Energy's development of the CEC program, which is another step in the right direction. Our initial subscription represents our commitment to work with DEF and others in the state for more ambitious renewable energy goals and a just transition to clean energy," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

How the program works

Customers can subscribe to kilowatt blocks of solar power from the company's Clean Energy Connection solar portfolio. The monthly subscription fee will help pay for the cost of construction and operation of the solar power plants and is conveniently added to a customer's regular electric bill.

Participating customers can subscribe to blocks of solar generation equivalent to 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar power per block and receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month. 

The monthly subscription fee is fixed at $8.35 per kW. A customer with average usage of 1,000 kWh/month would need to subscribe to approximately 5 kW to cover their full usage. Subscribers receive bill credits based on their subscription size and the solar energy that is produced by the Clean Energy Connection solar facilities each month.

The bill credit rate for the first 36 months of the program participation will be 4 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour), then the bill credit rate increases by 1.5% every year. The bill credit amount varies each month with the actual solar energy produced, where it may be greater during the months with more direct sunlight.

For a residential customer subscribing to a 5-kW block, the month-to-month impact will vary, but the net annual impact in year one is estimated to be a charge of about $6. Starting in year five, the annual bill credit is estimated to exceed the subscription fee. By year seven, customer credits are expected to exceed the charges paid to date for the program.

The program sets aside 26 MW for low-income customers who participate in government subsidy programs or Duke Energy Florida's low-income energy efficiency program.

With program enrollment, low-income customers will see guaranteed savings on their bill every month. These customers will pay an $8.35 monthly per kW subscription fee and receive a $9.03 monthly per kW bill credit, producing a savings of 68 cents for every kW subscribed. In this case, a low-income customer subscribing to a 3-kW block will save $2.04 every month, or $24.48 annually.

The Clean Energy Connection Program is designed to utilize low-cost universal DEF solar facilities while delivering solar energy efficiently to and for the benefit of all of our customers. It is also designed to provide participating customers with a seven-year full payback, with bill credits first exceeding subscription fees around three to five years. As long as the customer remains in the program for seven years, the annual bill credits are projected to be more than the subscription costs, creating real customer bill savings. 

"Duke Energy's Clean Energy Connection Program aligns well with Mosaic's commitments to environmental sustainability. We applaud Duke Energy for this innovative approach to expanding the use of renewable energy sources," said Mosaic Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs Ben Pratt.

Customers can request to offset 100% of their power usage with solar by subscribing to enough blocks of solar power to match the customer's annual energy usage.

If approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the program will open to residential and small businesses for enrollment in 2021 with the program beginning to generate power at the beginning of 2022. 

Customers who are interested in participating in the program can learn more through the Clean Energy Connection website.

Duke Energy Florida remains a leader in advancing clean energy in the state. It has installed more than 1 million solar panels in Florida and the Clean Energy Connection Program will support this continued success.

DEF currently has more than 500 MW of solar generation under construction or in operation as the company continues to construct or acquire a total of 700 MW of solar power facilities in Florida from 2018 through 2022.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit's regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2020 "World's Most Admired Companies" list, and Forbes' 2019 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.    

Media contact: Ana Gibbs
Cell: 813.928.7263 | 24-Hour: 800.559.3853

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