Since its merger with Progress last summer, Duke Energy has become the country's largest regulated utility company. But a report from the Solar Electric Power Association shows it ranks eighth in 2012 for the amount of solar power it can use at any one time.
At the top of the list is San Francisco-based utility company Pacific Gas and Electric – it boasts about 1600 megawatts of solar energy capacity. One megawatt is about the amount of energy you would need to power 1000 homes.
Duke Energy ranked eighth at about 183 megawatts. That's the amount of energy half of one of its coal fire plants produce.
"We've made a lot of progress in the last couple of years," says Randy Wheeless, a spokesman for Duke Energy. "If you looked at this report two years ago, we wouldn't even been in the top 20."
Wheeless says state regulations and the decreasing cost of solar technology is pushing the company to spend more on solar.
"There's a lot of interest in solar from large businesses to individual home owners," Wheeless says. "So, I think we're also responding to the needs of the marketplace, where solar is getting more attractive and we've definitely upped what we're doing in that area."
He doesn't have any specific numbers, but says Duke Energy will increase its solar energy through existing solar facilities in the Carolinas over the next year.
Becky Campbell, one of the authors of the report, says the pre-merger Progress Carolinas and Duke Energy Carolinas added 69 megawatts and 36 megawatts of solar capacity, respectively, in 2012. This was enough to bring the state's solar ranking from 14th in 2011 to fifth in 2012.