Duke Energy Fits Battery at Notrees

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Duke Energy Renewables, a unit of Duke Energy Corporation (DUK), has completed its 36-megawatt (MW) Battery Storage Project at Notrees Windpower Facility in West Texas. Xtreme Power had designed and installed the system at Notrees and will continue to operate the system. All the electricity generated from the facility will be sold by Xtreme Power to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT).

This battery power storage system is a part of Duke Energy's Notrees 153 MW Windpower Project. Way back in 2009, in order to match a grant provided by U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”), the company had announced its plans to install large-scale batteries capable of storing electricity produced by the company's 153-MW Notrees wind farm, located in Ector and Winkler counties.

Duke Energy is working directly with the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”). ERCOT operates the electrical grid in Texas and handles 75% of the deregulated market. It indicates the battery storage system either to dispatch stored energy to increase frequency or to absorb energy to decrease frequency. The largest battery power system will help the System Operator to maintain a balance between supply and demand with immediate feedback of frequency changes or other unpredicted events.

Battery storage is an important innovation to address the variability of wind and solar energy generation. Besides being environment friendly, the wind power facility provides flexible capacity to ERCOT. The frequency of electricity traveling throughout the power grid will be stabilized with the help of this system.

Apart from increasing the supply of renewable energy, the storage unit will ease wind farm performance by absorbing power from the wind farm at times of low demand for power and generate more power when it is required.

In Jan 2013, Duke Energy announced the completion of its largest-ever windpower construction projects – Los Vientos I and II – in south Texas, adding 402 megawatts (MW) to the company's renewables fleet.  Therefore, apart from Notrees Windpower Project, Duke Energy has three wind power projects in Texas Sweetwater in Nolan County; Ocotillo in Howard County and Los Vientos I and II.

In order to meet the renewable energy standards, many other energy companies are moving towards wind projects. In Dec 2012, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE) and BP Wind Energy, a unit of BP plc (BP), announced that their Auwahi Wind facility on Maui has come online and has started to provide commercial operation.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Duke Energy is a diversified energy company with a portfolio of domestic and international, natural gas and electric, regulated and unregulated businesses, which supply, deliver, and process energy for customers in North America and selected international markets. Duke Energy Corporation’s U.S. electricity and gas operations is spread over the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio that helps in generating a relatively stable and growing earnings stream.

However, we remain concerned due to present unfavorable macro backdrop, predominantly fossil-fuel based generation assets, tepid demand for electricity, a sudden change of its CEO and pending regulatory cases. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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