Renewable and alternative energy are key components in our long-term balanced approach to meeting growing electricity demand. We are committed to increasing the development and use of renewable and alternative energy technologies, including solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power.
In 2011, we purchased approximately 2.87 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy, double what we purchased in 2010. Progress Energy Florida purchased 1.22 million MWh, and Progress Energy Carolinas purchased 1.65 million MWh. This electricity came from hydroelectric producers, municipal solid waste incinerators, heat-recovery/cogeneration plants, biomass plants, landfill methane producers and solar energy systems in the Carolinas and Florida. Both utilities continued to seek new renewable energy projects through requests for proposals from renewable energy suppliers.
North Carolina Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS)
In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to enact a renewable energy and energy-efficiency portfolio standard (REPS). Progress Energy and other utilities worked collaboratively with state policymakers to develop this law, which requires the state’s electric companies to increase their use of renewable energy. Progress Energy Carolinas (PEC) must purchase or generate:
PEC may meet up to 25 percent of the renewable requirement with energy-efficiency measures through 2020 and up to 40 percent thereafter. PEC also may meet 25 percent through the purchase of out-of-state renewable energy credits. In addition, the law includes specific energy requirements related to solar plants and energy derived from swine and poultry waste, two significant farming waste streams in North Carolina. Importantly, North Carolina’s REPS includes economic protection provisions for customers, capping costs at $12 per year for residential customers for 2012 through 2014, and $34 per year thereafter.
North Carolina’s REPS compliance goals include a 0.02 percent solar set-aside in 2011. We successfully acquired approximately 8,000 MWh of solar energy to meet this requirement and are on track to meet future targets. We have a three-pronged approach to compliance, which includes using a competitive bidding process for utility-scale projects and offering ongoing incentives under the SunSense® commercial and residential PV programs. Projects under contract include a variety of technologies, system sizes and locations. This enables us to diversify our portfolio while consistently evaluating this dynamic market.
Overall REPS Compliance
In 2011, Progress Energy Carolinas continued its efforts to contract for renewable resources in preparation to meet the first overall requirement – 3 percent in 2012. This target translates to more than 1 million MWh. The company currently has contracts for 240 megawatts (MW) of generation to be used toward renewable energy compliance goals.
Significant North Carolina renewable purchase agreements executed in 2011 include:
- 2.4 MW in Scotland County
- 3 MW in Person County
- 3 MW in Henderson County
- Various other commercial-scale solar and solar thermal projects throughout PEC’s service territory
- 6.4 MW landfill gas in Montgomery County
- 24 MW of wood biomass and tire-derived waste in Person County
- 36 MW of poultry waste-to-biogas energy to be built in Duplin County
- 44 MW of wood biomass and tire-derived waste in Brunswick County
Progress Energy has four hydroelectric plants in North Carolina, with a total generating capacity of 225 MW of electricity. In 2006, we submitted an application to renew the operating licenses for the Tillery and Blewett plants and a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected in 2012. Company hydroelectric resources include:
Florida SunSense Schools
The Florida SunSense Schools Program continued to expand in 2011, which is its fifth year, and has more than 1,000 customers engaged in providing monthly contributions to support renewable energy education at schools throughout the Florida service area. In 2011, we completed installations at nine additional schools and one university. The program also now includes teacher training sessions. We are expanding the program to include solar panels for hurricane emergency shelters and will continue to provide support materials.
Cost-effective, reliable solar power will play an important role in a balanced energy portfolio. We have purchased from solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects for several years and continue to seek new solar initiatives. Cost and baseload availability limit our ability to utilize solar power on a large scale basis. Solar technology is more expensive than other forms of generation and it is only available on an intermittent basis.
Storing renewable energy for use when it is needed the most will help unlock the potential of intermittent solar and wind power sources. We are currently a partner in the University of South Florida’s (USF) Sustainable Electric Energy Delivery System, or S.E.E.D.S. program. Through this program, two solar arrays with advanced battery capabilities have been installed – one on the USF-St. Petersburg campus and the other in Albert Whitted Park in downtown St. Petersburg. These installations have required design modifications, but the ultimate goal is to utilize the renewable energy stored in these battery systems and reduce the summer system peak demand for electricity.
In the Carolinas, we are testing solar energy’s ability to charge electric vehicles and evaluating new battery storage technology through a demonstration project in Raleigh, N.C. A 3-kilowatt (kW) solar PV array is paired with two charging stations and a battery, and all will be monitored over time to study the interaction between these variable energy components. The results will help us to better understand PV grid interactions and intermittency challenges. The project also enables us to monitor side-by-side performance of two solar-panel manufacturers and evaluate battery performance.
We are also researching the potential value of small-scale solar PV generation distributed across our service territories. Through a collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and other peer utilities, we are conducting a three-year project to evaluate the energy potential and grid stability effects associated with integrating large amounts of intermittent solar PV distributed along the electric grid. This study is expected to help Progress Energy understand the full value and implications of distributed solar PV systems.
Our expanded SunSense offerings of solar incentive programs in the Carolinas and Florida continue to help our customers install solar systems. We now have solar PV incentive programs for residential and commercial customers to encourage roof-top solar installations and solar water heating programs in both service territories and a successful solar schools program in Florida.
You can learn more about our renewable energy and customer-generation programs on our website:
In addition to our customer generation programs, we are experiencing growth in large-scale solar PV installations. By the end of 2011, five solar arrays of 1 MW or greater in capacity were in operation in our Carolinas region, and we have additional projects under contract and in development. Also in 2011, we signed several large-scale solar PV contracts with three project developers who are committed to building successful large-scale solar projects in Florida.
In addition to the SunSense programs and large-scale arrays, we continue to work with several residential and commercial customers to connect small-scale PV systems to the electrical grid across our service territory:
Studies show that our service territory has good biomass resource potential. In addition to the typical sources of woody biomass, this resource can also include agricultural, animal or municipal waste, and dedicated energy crops. We have executed contracts to purchase electricity from almost 700 MW of capacity from biomass and municipal solid waste (MSW) sources. We are also partnering with local research organizations, industry partners and national laboratories to develop new technologies and to fully understand the environmental and land-use impacts of sustainably harvested biomass.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and can be extracted from many sources, including biomass, water or natural gas. Hydrogen holds much promise as an environmentally friendly and sustainable means of storing and delivering energy. The challenge is developing an economical way to extract hydrogen. Over the last year, Progress Energy has been partnering with local research laboratories, universities and vendors to evaluate the feasibility of a residential-scale, distributed hydrogen fuel cell as a long-term source for distributed electric generation.
Wind resources in our states are primarily concentrated along the Atlantic coast and the higher ridge crests in North Carolina’s mountains. Because of this, we are actively partnering with the University of North Carolina on a three-year project to evaluate the potential offshore wind resources for North Carolina. We believe that this resource may hold potential for long-term, utility-scale wind development for our service territory. We’re also evaluating other prospective wind proposals in North Carolina.
NC GreenPower is a nonprofit, statewide program that encourages residential and business customers in North Carolina to support improvements in the environment through the development of “green energy” and offering carbon offsets to balance or reduce the impact of GHG emissions.
Approximately 3,700 of our customers voluntarily pay more on their monthly electric bills to subsidize the purchase of renewable energy or reduce their “carbon footprint” on the environment. Every contribution of $4 purchases a 100-kWh block of electricity generated from renewable energy resources, or the customer can elect to purchase 500 pounds of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions. All contributions are tax-deductible. We sponsor and play an active role in the program’s development by marketing the program, registering participants and providing billing and collection services at no cost. More than 290 renewable energy generators are now under contract or operating under this program, including solar, wood waste, small hydroelectric, animal biomass and landfill methane gas. More than 100 of these systems are located in Progress Energy Carolinas’ service territory.
PaCE is a statewide South Carolina program that encourages residential customers to support renewable energy development. Customers can volunteer to make a tax-deductible contribution on their monthly electric bills to purchase blocks of electricity generated from renewable resources. Each $4 contribution purchases a 100-kWh block of energy. As of March 2012, the PaCE program includes 54 Progress Energy customers.
Progress Energy recognizes the benefits of educational programs that promote science, mathematics and critical thinking skills. Our company actively partners with K-12 schools in our service territory to develop and implement energy education programs that raise awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of energy conservation and alternative energy.