Duke Energy acquiring East Coast's biggest solar farm

Duke Energy is asking North Carolina regulators to transfer legal possession of the East Coast's largest solar farm from its current owner to the Charlotte utility company.

In its filing Tuesday with the N.C. Utilities Commission, Duke said its request is "the first of its kind" in North Carolina as the utility moves ahead with a $500 million investment to acquire outright or purchase power from eight solar farms.

Duke is buying three solar farms with 128 megawatts of capacity and buying electricity from five solar farms representing 150 megawatts.

The largest acquisition involves the 65-megawatt Warsaw Solar Facility in Duplin County, currently being developed by Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar. Once built it will be the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi River, Duke said.

Duke is asking the N.C. Utilities Commission to transfer Strata Solar's certificate of public convenience and necessity, a legal term for regulatory approval, from Strata to Duke. The project is expected to be built and generating electricity by the fourth quarter of 2015.

Warsaw Solar Project encompasses leases with seven landowners on 547 acres in Duplin County.