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Duke Energy to build solar plant in Bladen County

Duke Energy announced Monday plans to build a solar power plant in Bladen County as part of a $500 million investment in solar power in North Carolina.

The plant will be constructed on 120 acres off N.C. 87 near the Bladen and Cumberland county lines, and will have 105,000 solar panels, the company said. Construction is expected to begin early in 2015, and be in operation before the end of year, the company said.

The news about the Bladen County plant came as Duke Energy announced plans to build solar facilities in Duplin and Wilson counties, and also signed power-purchase agreements with five new solar projects in North Carolina.

The Bladen County project is expected to produce about 48 megawatts annually, which would be enough power for more than 4,000 homes per year, according to the company.

The facility owned by Duke Energy is expected to produce about 23 megawatts annually and will be developed by Tangent Energy Solutions. Duke Energy also will purchase about 48 megawatts from an agreement with Innovative Solar Systems involving Bladen County operations.

Along with its Bladen County plant, Duke Energy will own a 65 megawatt facility in Duplin County developed by Strata Solar, which will be the largest solar photovoltaic plant east of the Mississippi River, and a 40 megawatt plant in Wilson County developed by HelioSage Energy.

Other power-purchase agreements that Duke Energy announced Monday included:

48 megawatts in Richmond County developed by FLS Energy.
20 megawatts in Scotland County developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy.
19 megawatts in Cleveland County developed by Birdseye Renewable Energy.
15 megawatts in Beauford County developed by Element Power US.

Together, the eight projects are expected to have a capacity of 278 megawatts annually, the company said. In addition, Duke Energy has signed 33 other agreements in North Carolina in 2014 for projects totaling 109 megawatts of capacity.

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