Duke Energy prepping for power hit ahead of eclipse

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The moon will block out more than 90 percent of North Carolina's sunshine on Aug. 21. (WTVD)

Energy companies across the country are bracing for a drastic loss of solar energy during the solar eclipse later this month.

The moon will block out more than 90 percent of North Carolina's sunshine on Aug. 21.

Duke Energy has been fine-tuning a plan for weeks to keep the power on.

"We estimate our solar energy output will decrease from about 2,500 megawatts to 200 megawatts in an hour and a half period," said Duke Energy spokeswoman Meredith Archie. "This type of sharp decline in supply can cause reliability issues for the grid."

North Carolina is the second largest consumer of solar energy in the country.

On a sunny day, Duke Energy has enough solar panels to power up to 600,000 homes, but the eclipse could bring energy production to a near halt in places like Monroe--the biggest solar farm in the Charlotte area.

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Engineers across the state have been working on a plan to transfer power from other areas to avoid service interruptions.

Strata Solar Services, which partners with Duke Energy, said it is nothing they can't handle.

"In some cases, if there's not a lot of solar on a substation, that might just mean letting the sun do whatever it does, and if a solar plant goes offline, the grid operator will respond by kicking in another generator to maintain the balance that they need to," said Director of Operations Mike Loeser.

The effect of the eclipse will vary from place to place and depend heavily on the weather.

The loss of power could be large if it is sunny, cloudy, or raining.

"I think the reason the eclipse draws so much attention is that it will end up affecting the entire state, and so the grid operators have to plan for that to occur all in a very short period of time," said Loeser.

Either way, Duke Energy is ready.

"We are prepared, and we do have enough energy to meet our customer needs," said Archie.

The country's last total solar eclipse was in 1979 and only passed through five states.

This month it will hover over 14 states.

RELATED: North Carolina Highway Patrol worried about eclipse safety

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