Duke Energy breaking ground for solar farm at Camp Lejeune

Charlotte-based Duke Energy is breaking ground on a solar energy farm on the East Coast’s largest Marine Corps base as the military diversifies from petroleum power.

The country’s largest electric company is starting construction Friday at Camp Lejeune on a 13-megawatt solar array on 100 acres. The project’s goal is helping the Navy and Marines meet their energy and security goals while furthering Duke Energy’s renewable energy holdings.

Crowder Construction Services, based in Charlotte, is handling the project’s engineering, procurement and construction. The solar facility is expected to be online in 2015, Duke Energy said in a statement in April, when it received the green light from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for the project.

The Navy has decided its reliance on oil is a national security problem and plans to produce at least half its on-shore energy needs from alternative sources by 2020.

Duke Energy is required by state law to generate 12.5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2021. Duke is investing about $500 million on three other North Carolina solar projects.

Observer reporter Katherine Peralta contributed.