Duke Energy Renewables Business Taking Off (NYSE: DUK)

Duke Energy’s Renewables business produces renewable energy for sale primarily to other utilities and commercial customers. The business began as a start-up in 2009 and has grown into one of the country’s biggest players in renewable energy. Duke Energy controls wind turbines and solar panels from coast to coast.

Duke Energy is currently the largest power company in the United States, supplying electricity to more than 7 million customers across the Southeast and Midwest. The entire company currently books more than $25 billion in overall annual revenues.

Duke Energy Renewables has now grown to 350 employees and has invested roughly $4 billion in solar and wind facilities. According to Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables, investments in both wind and solar will continue. The company currently has four major solar projects underway and several more in the planning stages.

Duke’s renewable energy business is growing about 20 percent annually. It’s nearly 50 renewable energy sites now generate about 2 gigawatts of electricity annually. The renewable energy business is expected to contribute more than $100 million to Duke’s overall profits next year.

North Carolina is fourth in the nation in solar power and Duke Energy is a big part of the reason why. According to North Carolina state law, Duke Energy must produce at least 12.5 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2021. Duke Energy is building more solar capacity in the Carolinas to power local homes and businesses

Critics say Duke is making a minimal investment in renewable energy. The company is still facing criticism that it remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Regulators have forced utilities to provide a mix of alternative energy, including wind and solar, in response to environmental concerns. Reports from Duke show that solar makes up about 2 percent of the energy it currently produces in North Carolina.