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Duke Energy hits top 10 list for solar power

Duke Energy Carolinas has cracked the top 10 utilities for solar-power production, according to the Solar Energy Power Association’s annual rankings.

It’s the first time a Carolinas utility has made the top 10. Duke jumped four places to 10th from 14th, the association reports in 2010 SEPA Utility Solar Rankings released June 9.

“Duke Energy Carolinas ranked tenth on the strength of two very different projects,” the report says. “Twelve megawatts of the 15.5-MW Davidson Solar Facility in North Carolina were completed in 2010, along with the deployment of more than 7 MW of utility-owned, customer-sited solar projects.”

The Davidson project, built by SunEdison, was tied for the sixth-largest solar project in the nation. But it was far behind the 75-megawatt Martin Solar Center built last year for Florida Power & Light Florida Power & Light Latest from The Business Journals Workforce, incentives, location make Putnam primeSavannah development chief hired by Fla.FPL to implode Riviera Beach plant Follow this company , which led the project list.

Pacific Gas & Electric Pacific Gas & Electric Latest from The Business Journals APS, TEP rank among top solar installers in 2010Primus Power batteries recharge the utility industryHealth care security firm nCircle sees growth in small clients Follow this company of California ranked first, as it did last year, with 157.3 megawatts of solar power in its system. The Martin project vaulted Florida Power & Light into second place on the list with 87.2 megawatts.

Three of the top 10 utilities are in California. Two are in Colorado, and two are in New Jersey. One is in Arizona.

Duke’s solar capacity doesn't take into account the small amount of solar power produced in Duke Energy Corp. Duke Energy Corp. Latest from The Business Journals Edwardsport costs running ahead of Duke Energy's projectionsCharlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx heads to Clinton Global InitiativeS.C. says Duke Energy can spend 0M on Lee planning Follow this company ’s Midwestern utilities (in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio). It also does not include the 23 megawatts of solar-power projects owned by Duke Energy Renewables, an unregulated subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp. that sells power to utility and industrial customers.

Fracking bills close to approval in N.C.

The N.C. State Senate may act soon on a bill that would authorize a $200,000 study of the potential for drilling for shale gas in North Carolina, SNL Energy reports.

Coupled with legislation likely to be acted on today in the N.C. House, the bills could make drilling by hydraulic fracturing — know as fracking — legal in the state by 2013.

The story quotes Kenneth Taylor of the N.C. Geological Survey as saying the bill would allow the state to learn what’s available and what kind of rules should govern drilling in the state.

"We want to have an efficient system," Taylor said. "I think the big problem we face on the state's side right now is the General Assembly needs to be educated on … how the real shale gas process works in other states. Part of the study bill is to show them that. My contribution to the report will be, for example, a day in the life of Pennsylvania."

The N.C. House has already approved the study bill. And it is considering a Senate-passed measure that would permit natural-gas exploration and production on land and offshore in the state.

Rep. Mitch Gillespie told SNL Energy almost 10,000 acres have already been leased for exploration in North Carolina.

Fracking involves injecting water and chemicals into shale deposits to free the natural gas for production. The process has run into environmental challenges in some states, including Pennsylvania and New York.

John Downey covers the energy industry for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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