Duke Energy ranks among biggest solar producers

Duke Energy ranked among the nation’s top 10 utilities for new solar power capacity in 2013, the Solar Electric Power Association said Monday.

Duke Energy Progress, which serves the eastern Carolinas and Asheville, ranked fifth-highest with 137 megawatts of solar energy. Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves Charlotte and the western Carolinas, came in 10th with 58 megawatts.

Utility installations led a surge of solar energy in 2013, the association said.

North Carolina was the nation’s fourth-biggest solar state with 351 megawatts. California and Arizona led the state list.

Duke, which has been under fire for proposing to pay homeowners with rooftop solar arrays less for their energy, touted the rankings as evidence of its commitment to alternative energy.

“We remain hard at work securing additional solar energy that will make our generation fleet cleaner and support energy policy,” Rob Caldwell, vice president of renewable energy development, said in a statement.

Duke brought about 200 megawatts of new capacity online in the Carolinas in 2013, mostly with purchases from large solar developers. It expects to add another 300 megawatts by the end of 2015.

Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit, owns 145 megawatts of solar capacity in eight states.