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Duke Energy selling commercial solar business for $364 million

 solar panels amid the telescope domes at Keck Observatory in Hawaii
Duke Energy
Duke Energy's commercial rooftop solar division completed installation of solar panels in 2020 at W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Duke Energy says it will sell its commercial rooftop solar business for $364 million as part of a strategic shift toward its regulated utilities.

Duke announced an agreement Wednesday to sell the unit to Boston-based ArcLight Capital Partners. The division sells rooftop solar systems and gas or hydrogen fuel cells to businesses that want to generate their own clean energy.

ArcLight will acquire all of the division's assets, including operations and maintenance contracts and sales pipeline, plus the fuel cell projects, which are managed by California-based Bloom Energy.

A spokeswoman said fewer than 90 Duke employees will join ArcLight when the deal closes by year's end. Duke expects to net $259 million from the sale.

Last month, Duke also announced plans to sell its commercial solar and wind business to Brookfield Renewable for $2.8 billion. The deal is expected to net Duke $1.1 billion. That division operates wind and solar farms, and sells electricity to other utilities, businesses or institutions.

Duke Chair and CEO Lynn Good said the company will use the money from both sales to finance its shift to clean energy at its regulated utilities in the Carolinas, Florida and the Midwest. The business units being sold by Duke operate in unregulated markets selling energy or services directly to businesses.

“The sale of our commercial renewables businesses streamlines our portfolio and provides the resources to support the long-term needs of our customers in our growing regulated territories,” Good said in a press release. “Over the next decade, we plan to invest significant amounts of capital to fund the critical energy infrastructure necessary to serve our customers and support our clean energy transition.”

Duke is among a collection of big utility companies that have sold renewable energy projects in recent months, all for similar reasons. Duke has said it plans to invest $145 billion in its clean energy transition across its territories over the next decade.

Duke Energy's stock price is down about 14% over the past year.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.