Now this is the type of thing we are talking about when we say utilities should step up. Duke Energy today 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. This is the first of three customer programs Duke Energy is proposing as part of the implementation of 2017’s Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law – also known as House Bill 589. The program needs to be approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission.
Currently, in North Carolina, Duke Energy has about 6,000 customers who have private solar systems – with a total capacity of just over 50 megawatts. The program expects to increase North Carolina’s private solar market by 200 percent over the next five years, providing an economic boost for the state’s solar installation business as well.
“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,” said 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.”
Under the program, residential customers will be eligible for a rebate of 60 cents per watt for solar energy systems 10 kilowatts (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 50 cents per watt. Nonprofit customers (such as churches and schools) would be eligible for an enhanced rebate of 75 cents per watt 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.
Customers will also have a solar leasing option. Instead of owning the system, customers can lease solar panels from another company.
“We are structuring our program to give customers more flexibility on how to adopt solar resources,” added Fountain. “Of course, customers have to determine if solar energy fits their needs.”
In 2018, Duke Energy will roll out additional programs to help customers go solar if they wish:
• Shared Solar – Will allow customers to subscribe to the output of a nearby solar facility and provides an alternative for customers who do not want, or can’t have, a solar array on their property.
• Green Source Advantage – 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.
— Solar Builder magazine