Duke Energy’s Idaho Project Is Part Of A Much Bigger National Expansion Through Clean Energy

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When I think of Duke Energy, I think of North Carolina. This is partly because I have family out there, and partly because the Duke name is commonly used out there. That’s where Duke Energy started, and it has grown to provide electricity services in several states, but these states are all fairly far east of the Mississippi. So, when I heard in a recent press release that it is opening up a big solar farm in Idaho, I was initially a little confused. But, it turns out that its clean energy footprint is about to become lot bigger than their normal service areas in the Eastern US.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions recently made news by launching its 120-megawatt Jackpot Solar project in Twin Falls County, Idaho. This venture, done by the part of Duke Energy that focuses on these projects, should be pretty impactful in Idaho.

This groundbreaking renewable energy project marks the organization’s debut in Idaho, and is also currently holding the title of largest solar facility to be operational within the state. Through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Idaho Power, this 120 megawatt capacity plant will have enough electricity generation annually to meet all essential energy needs for an estimated 24,000 households.

“Entering the Idaho solar market with such a major renewable project is very exciting for Duke Energy,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “Jackpot Solar will help strengthen the energy diversity in the state, and bring additional economic benefits to the state and Twin Falls County, while also supporting Idaho Power’s clean energy goals.”

Jackpot Solar will propel Idaho Power towards its Clean Today, Cleaner Tomorrow goal of providing 100% renewable energy by 2045.

“This project continues our commitment to clean energy while also helping us address the rapidly growing need for new resources to ensure we can provide reliable, affordable electricity to our customers,” said Idaho Power senior vice president and COO Adam Richins.

SOLV Energy was given the task of engineering and constructing a project that encompasses 952 acres in rural Twin Falls. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will now be responsible for ownership and management of this complex.

When the Jackpot Solar facility was at its peak of construction, it employed around two hundred workers. The extensive economic benefits that accompany solar project development range from increased local spending in service and construction industries to a positive impact on the Filer Consolidated School District due to considerable tax revenues.

The Duke Energy Foundation granted a generous sum of $15,000 to the Shoshone Basin Rangeland Fire Protection Association, who are devotedly working towards ensuring safety in rural areas of Twin Falls County, Idaho. Through this contribution and their efforts, citizens can rest assured that they now have extra protection from fire hazards.

Let’s Take A Deeper Look At Duke’s Renewables Arm

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS) has been actively involved in 1,000+ projects across the United States to help large-scale enterprises reduce their power costs and emissions as well as boosting resiliency. Its remarkable achievements include 5,100 megawatts of nonregulated renewable energy capacity through wind, solar and resilient backup power services that they have managed efficiently.

As a leader among Fortune 150 companies, Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is the nonregulated commercial arm of the prominent energy holding company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Other Projects Duke Has Opened Recently Show A Real National Ambition

Poking around Duke’s website, I was able to find several other big jobs DESS has opened, so the company is definitely not exaggerating when it claims to be a nationwide effort in the United States. Let’s talk briefly about a couple of them.

Earlier this month, Duke announced the opening of a 207-megawatt (MW) Ledyard Windpower project in Kossuth County, Iowa. This is DESS’s first project in that state, too. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is making sure to keep up with the long-term maintenance and operations of 46 Vestas V150 4.5-MW turbines, which have enough capacity to power 75,000 American households, so we’re not talking about just a few little windmills.

When Ledyard Windpower initiated its construction, over 200 jobs were created. Even better, 12,000 acres of agricultural land are still in use by farmers, so they’re only adding to the local economy instead of taking anything away. The local community will benefit from the positive economic impact too; every year during commercial operations it’s estimated that substantial taxes and payments to landowners will be provided to county and school districts alike.

Another site, which began full construction in late 2022 and should achieve commercial operation later this year, is located in Desoto County, MS. Like the others, it will be the first DESS project in that state as well.

Toyota North America has signed a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement that will provide up to 80 MW of solar energy to the project. The financial settlement of this agreement is tied directly to the real-time output produced by the project, meaning they’ll be able to monitor and adjust accordingly.

By constructing the Wildflower Solar plant near Toyota’s Mississippi facility, the automotive manufacturer is significantly reducing its emissions output and taking another giant leap towards achieving carbon neutrality in its operations by 2035. The renewable electricity generated from this zero-emission source will replace high emission sources on the grid, bringing Toyota one step closer to that goal.

”Our collective future depends on clean mobility, clean air, clean water and biodiversity,” said Kevin Butt, director of sustainability for Toyota Motor North America, at the time of the announcement last year. “Renewable energy sources, like solar, are a key to achieving our goal of carbon neutrality and our purchase from Wildflower alone has the potential to reduce Toyota’s carbon footprint in North America by as much as 8 percent.”

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will own and manage the Wildflower Solar project, projected to create 300 jobs during its peak construction phase. In addition to the economic advantages that come with a solar power development — such as greater spending on services and building materials in local areas — it will also provide noteworthy tax revenues for Mississippi public schools.

Featured image provided by Duke Energy

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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