Duke Proposes $62M Solar Rebate Program In North Carolina

Duke Energy has proposed a $62 million solar rebate program designed to help its North Carolina customers with the upfront cost of installing solar panels on their property.

The energy company explains this is the first of three customer programs its is proposing as part of the implementation of 2017’s Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law, also known as H.B.589.

“The Competitive Energy Solutions law for North Carolina will reduce the cost our customers pay for solar, while also supporting their interest in solar energy in ways that are most meaningful for them,” says David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “For many customers, installing solar is a significant investment. Duke Energy’s rebate program will help them by lowering their initial costs.”

Currently, in North Carolina, Duke Energy has about 6,000 customers who have private solar systems – with a total capacity of just over 50 MW. The program expects to increase North Carolina’s private solar market by 200% over the next five years, providing an economic boost for the state’s solar installation business, as well.

“The proposed solar rebates program is the result of two years of collaboration between the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association and Duke Energy,” says Ivan Urlaub, NCSEA’s executive director. “If approved, this program will enable more North Carolinians across our state to realize the cost-saving benefits of solar. We are glad to have been a voice for electric consumers in the design of this program. NCSEA looks forward to partnering with all energy providers and their customers to continue innovating solutions that open our growing clean energy market to everyone.”

The program needs to be approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Under the proposed program, residential customers would be eligible for a rebate of $0.60/W for solar energy systems 10 kW or less. For example, a typical rooftop array of 8 kW would be eligible for a $4,800 rebate. Installed systems 10 kW or greater would be eligible for a maximum rebate of $6,000.

Nonresidential customers would be eligible for $0.50/W. Nonprofit customers (such as churches and schools) would be eligible for an enhanced rebate of $0.75/W for systems 100 kW or less. Installed systems 100 kW or greater would be eligible for a maximum rebate of $50,000 for non-residential customers, or $75,000 for nonprofit customers.

Duke Energy notes customers will also have a solar leasing option. Instead of owning the system, customers can lease solar panels from another company. Much like leasing a car, a third-party leasing agency owns the system while the customer has a contract to use the output of the solar panels.

“We are structuring our program to give customers more flexibility on how to adopt solar resources,” adds Fountain. “Of course, customers have to determine if solar energy fits their needs.”

Duke Energy says it plans to roll out additional programs this year to help customers go solar if they wish. The company’s Shared Solar program will allow customers to subscribe to the output of a nearby solar facility and provide an alternative for customers who do not want, or can’t have, a solar array on their property. Meanwhile, the Green Source Advantage program will allow large customers to secure solar power to offset the amount of power purchased from Duke Energy. This is an expanded version of a pilot program Duke Energy Carolinas provided.

Duke Energy notes North Carolina is already among the nation’s leading solar states and says these programs continue the company’s efforts to implement the Competitive Solutions for North Carolina law, which Duke calls landmark solar legislation. Co-sponsored by state Reps. Dean Arp and John Szoka, the law was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper in summer 2017. More information on the law is available here.

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