SACE's annual "Solar in the Southeast" report ranks our region's largest utilities. In the third blog post of the series, we examine large utility systems.Bryan Jacob | July 5, 2023
In the third blog post of our series about the “Solar in the Southeast” sixth annual report, we will examine the large utility systems.
Let’s start out with the “Big 5”: Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Southern Company, Oglethorpe, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). These five large utilities represent 73 percent of retail customers in the Southeast. They also represent about 84 percent of solar deployed in the region.
Duke Energy, including three subsidiary utilities (Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Duke Energy Florida), has the most solar capacity: 6,225 MW from 2022. And Duke Energy maintains a lead over the other utility systems on our watts-per-customer solar ratio, as well.
In fact, we project the Duke Energy lead on the W/C solar ratio to increase slightly throughout this year – 2023 – before conceding that lead to FPL after 2025. Of course, the Duke Energy utilities in the Carolinas will be submitting updated resource plans this year to align with the North Carolina Carbon Plan. That represents an opportunity for Duke to match or raise the stakes on FPL.
And when we look at the rankings where those utilities are listed individually, we also notice that one of the Duke Energy utilities shines brighter than the rest.
Duke Energy Progress has been atop the leaderboard since our very first “Solar in the Southeast” report. This year is no exception. In fact, there hasn’t been that much recent change at the top. Tampa Electric surpassed Dominion Energy South Carolina (DESC) for the number 2 slot. But otherwise, the top 5 all stayed the same.
You may notice a new addition to these tables. For this analysis, we only include utilities or utility systems that serve at least 500,000 retail customers. The customer base of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative has been steadily growing and it now serves more than 500,000 customers. So it is now included in this ranking – and, as pointed out in our first blog post of this series, PowerSouth joins the Carolina Electric Cooperatives and Alabama Power on our list of SunBlockers. This dubious designation applies to any of the large utility systems whose forecast for four years out (2026) is still below the regional average from last year (2022).