Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS), an arm of major U.S. utility Duke Energy, said commercial operation has begun on the group’s largest solar power plant. DESS on March 8 said the 250-MW Pisgah Ridge Solar farm in Navarro County, Texas, is online, supplying power to at least three groups as part of virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs).
“We’re excited to continue to grow our Texas solar portfolio,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, in a statement. “This project demonstrates how we can continue to expand our renewable energy resources while providing unique sustainability solutions for commercial customers.”
The VPPAs include an agreement to supply Charles River Laboratories International, which provides research tools and support services to the pharmaceutical industry, with 102 MW of the array’s output over the next 15 years. The company said the VPPA will supply all of the group’s electric power load.
“Charles River has committed to sourcing 100% of our global electricity needs through renewable sources by 2030,” said Gregg Belardo, executive director of EHS (environment, health, safety) and Sustainability at Charles River. “Our VPPA with DESS provides coverage for our North American facilities and moves us significantly closer to that global goal. We are proud to partner with Duke Energy and are excited that Pisgah Ridge is now online.”
Other VPPA agreement associated with Pisgah Ridge include a 15-year, 83-MW offtake deal with Meijer, a Midwest grocery and home goods retailer. A third, undisclosed company also has a 15-year VPPA. DESS said the three deals account for more than 90% of Pisgah Ridge’s total electricity output, and will be settled on an “as generated” basis tied to the solar farm’s real-time energy production.
“Lessening our impact on the environment through a continued commitment in reducing carbon emissions is an issue that is important to us and our customers,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Meijer. “We’ve made significant progress over the years, but this project with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions puts us on the right path to making an even bigger impact.”
Moss, a Florida-based national construction company, provided engineering and construction services for the project. DESS will own and operate the solar farm. The group now operates about 1,500 of wind power, 750 MW of solar, and a 36-MW battery energy storage facility in Texas.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).