Jan 8, 2021
Duke Energy Renewables, a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), is expanding its solar energy portfolio by acquiring the 144-megawatt (MWac) Pflugerville Solar project from Recurrent Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ).
The project is under construction in Travis County, Texas, and is expected to achieve commercial operation in mid-2021. The energy generated from the Pflugerville Solar project will be sold to Austin Energy under a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
This is the fifth utility-scale project that Duke Energy Renewables has acquired from Recurrent Energy, including the Rambler Solar project in Texas, which reached commercial operation in 2020.
"We're excited to add this terrific project to our growing Texas solar portfolio to meet the increasing demand for power in the state and support our longstanding relationship with Austin Energy," said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Renewables. "In addition to providing Austin Energy's customers with low-cost clean energy, this project will also bring significant economic benefits to the state."
"This sale to Duke Energy Renewables is another milestone that demonstrates Recurrent Energy's leadership position in the United States, where we currently have more than 5,700 MWac of solar projects under construction and in development and more than 1,045 MW / 4,180 MWh of energy storage projects under development," said Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. "We have a long-standing relationship with Duke Energy Renewables and are pleased that they have become the new owners of Pflugerville Solar, as it is a landmark project that will power local homes in the Austin area, supporting the clean energy transition as the Lone Star State continues to diversify its energy mix."
Austin Energy, the City of Austin's electric utility, serves more than 500,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. This PPA supports Austin Energy's goal of achieving at least 55 percent renewable energy by 2025, and 65 percent renewable energy by the end of 2027. The project also supports Duke Energy's goals of doubling its renewable energy resources by the end of 2025.
"We currently meet 63 percent of our customers' energy needs with carbon-free resources," said Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent. "Adding the Pflugerville Solar project to our portfolio will bring us closer to meeting our affordability and climate protection goals adopted by the Austin City Council and championed by our customers."
The 144-MWac Pflugerville Solar project will generate enough energy to power approximately 27,000 homes. The power plant will utilize approximately 489,600 pieces of Canadian Solar's high-efficiency bifacial BiKu modules across 932 acres in Travis County, Texas. The engineering and construction for the project are being performed by Signal Energy. To support the construction of the project, in August, Recurrent Energy closed debt and tax equity financing totaling over $234 million. The tax equity financing was provided by U.S. Bank and the debt financing was provided by a bank club led by CIT Bank, which included Norddeutsche Landesbank ("Nord/LB"), Rabobank, and Zions Bank. Duke Energy Renewables will provide the long-term operations and maintenance services to the project.
The project is expected to employ 350 workers at peak construction, with at least 50% of those construction jobs expected to be filled by local skilled tradesmen from the Travis County area. Along with indirect economic benefits that accompany solar project development, such as increased local spending in the service and construction industries, Pflugerville Solar will also have a positive economic impact on the local community by providing significant tax revenues for Travis County and the Elgin Independent School District.
As one of the nation's top renewable energy providers, Duke Energy plans to double its enterprise wide renewable portfolio from 8 GW to 16 GW by the end of 2025.