Duke Energy is seeing strong demand for its solar rebate deal in North Carolina (16 MW so far)

Duke Energy solar rebate

Home with solar panels on the roof. The house is located in Chatham County, N.C.

Duke Energy’s North Carolina solar rebate program has attracted significant interest from customers, with more than 1,500 applying for the incentive to install private solar systems in the first few weeks of the program’s launch.

The rebate offering, which opened July 9 to all Duke Energy customers in the state, is part of a five-year, $62 million program designed to support customers who want to install solar systems at their homes or businesses.
As a result of the popularity of the program, there is a waiting list for the residential and nonresidential categories for 2018 capacity.

Due to the first-come, first-served application rule of the program, the company is seeking permission from the N.C. Utilities Commission (NCUC) to allow residential and nonresidential customers who installed systems between Jan. 1, 2018, and July 26, 2018, another opportunity to apply for the rebate program in 2019. There is still capacity left for nonprofit customers this year.

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About 16 megawatts of new solar capacity has been accepted for rebates – totaling about $9 million. Overall, up to 20 MW of new capacity is expected to be added each year during the five-year program. At the start of 2018, Duke Energy had about 5,000 customers with private solar in North Carolina, with a total capacity of about 50 MW.
Information for the rebate program can be found at: duke-energy.com/home/products/renewable-energy/nc-solar-rebates.

Solar rebate program

Under the program, residential customers are 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 is eligible for a $4,800 rebate. Installed systems 10 kW or greater are eligible for a maximum rebate of $6,000.

Nonresidential customers are eligible for 50 cents per watt. Nonprofit customers (such as churches and schools) are eligible for an enhanced rebate of 75 cents per watt for systems 100 kW or less.

The rebates are divided into maximum annual allotments of 20 MW and are on a first-come, first-served basis – depending on when the customer application is submitted.

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy launches Shared Solar Program option for residents in South Carolina

Duke Energy shared solar south carolina

Duke Energy Progress is launching an affordable Shared Solar Program option for customers in South Carolina. Available to all qualified Duke Energy Progress residential and nonresidential customers, including those who live in multifamily housing or rent homes, the goal is to enable them to share in the economic benefits from the output of a single solar facility.

Customers who subscribe to solar energy through the Shared Solar Program will receive a monthly bill credit for the value of the energy produced by their subscription.

“This is a great program for any customers who don’t own their residence or are unable to put a solar facility on their property,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, state president for Duke Energy in South Carolina. “We estimate that residential customers will earn back their initial payment in credits from the solar array in three years. Customers are not only saving on their electric bill, they are directly supporting a renewable energy future in South Carolina for generations to come.”

The program will be powered by the Whitney M. Slater Shared Solar Facility developed by Pine Gate Renewables and located in Dillon County near Lake View, S.C. Duke Energy Progress serves electric customers in the northeastern part of the state, including Florence, Darlington and Sumter counties.

RELATED: Crowd Sourced: Details on a plan for drastic cost reductions, wide deployment of community-scale solar

How does shared solar work?

Participants in the program will pay a monthly subscription fee of $6.25 a kilowatt in addition to initial fees to join the program. These program costs are in addition to the customer’s regular energy bill.

The monthly fee funds the customer’s share of supporting the operation of a solar facility located in the Pee Dee region. By subscribing to the Shared Solar Program, the customer will receive a monthly credit from Duke Energy Progress equal to the amount of solar energy the customer’s share produced.

Participating in this program will not impact customer usage or the way they pay their bill.

For qualified low-income customers, Duke Energy Progress will waive the application cost and initial fees, a $120 value.

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy denied in attempt to raise fixed rates on customers in North Carolina

solar rebates north carolina

Duke Energy had big plans in North Carolina for a $13 billion capital reinvestment plan to modernize the grid and requested a $472 million rate hike to fund it (about 8.5 percent on average). The details of the plan and the increased rates didn’t sound too “modern” to North Carolina regulators who not only denied the request last week but also ordered the utility to refund $60 million in deferred taxes to customers and fined it $70 million for the way it handled coal ash.

Duke also asked to charge utility customers $1.5 billion over five years to close all storage pits holding potentially toxic coal ash. Commissioners said that wouldn’t happen until the utility records the charges in a separate account that the board can scrutinize.

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At $13.8 billion, Duke’s proposal would be one of the single largest capital expenditures by the utility and effectively double its Transmission and Distribution Rate Base – which is a major source of shareholder profits. To put that number in perspective, the cost of Power/Forward is greater than the total state revenue from personal income taxes in 2016. From Vote Solar:

Those rate increases would have come in the form of a fixed charge on customers’ utility bill, which reduces the value proposition of rooftop solar, battery storage, and energy efficiency — critical components of a modern grid. And because high fixed charges render customers powerless to do anything to reduce a major chunk of their bill, they inherently discriminate against low-income and fixed-income customers, whose energy expenditures are a larger proportion of their household budget.

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy’s solar rebate program approved in North Carolina

solar system rebate

Duke Energy’s $62 million solar rebate program – which will help North Carolina customers with the upfront cost of installing solar panels on their property – was approved this month by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). The program is part of 2017’s Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law – also known as House Bill 589 – which includes new Duke Energy programs to benefit customers. Customers can start signing up this summer.

“The Competitive Energy Solutions law for North Carolina will encourage solar ownership for customers while we pursue a balanced and affordable energy mix for all customers,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “It also allows Duke Energy to secure solar energy from independent facilities at a market rate – also a benefit for customers.”

North Carolina is second in the nation for overall solar capacity. Currently, in North Carolina, Duke Energy has more than 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.

RELATED: Our big takeaway from SEIA’s latest Grid Modernization report: Utilities need to step up

“Duke Energy’s North Carolina customers have never had a better opportunity to take control of their energy future with solar than with this rebate program. We’re eager to work with those customers to take advantage of the incentive,” said Jay Radcliffe, CEO of Renu Energy Solutions of Charlotte. “The federal tax credit is still in place. In nearly a decade of installing solar, now is the best time I’ve seen for customers to save.”

Rebate Details

  • 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 nonresidential customers, or $75,000 for nonprofit customers.
  • Customers will also have a solar leasing option.

“We structured our program to give customers as much flexibility as possible to pursue renewable options,” added Fountain. “Of course, customers have to determine if solar energy fits their needs.”

Earlier this year, Duke Energy announced two other solar programs as a result of the law. The programs are awaiting approval from the NCUC.

• 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

Details on Duke Energy’s solar energy investment in the Carolinas

Duke Energy

Duke Energy is one of the leaders in terms of utility solar energy investment — so much so that it was a big funder of SEIA’s effort to fight against tariffs — and customers in North Carolina are seeing the benefits. Duke Energy added about 500 MW of new solar energy capacity in 2017 – with an energy output roughly equal to what 90,000 homes would use in a year. Overall, Duke Energy has around 2,500 megawatts of solar capacity connected to its energy grid in the state, which is produced by itself and other companies statewide.

“For the past three years, Duke Energy’s effort to deliver solar energy to our customers has led North Carolina to be the No. 2 solar state in the nation,” said Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. “Even better is we expect a lot more growth over the next few years.”

Caldwell added a major part of that growth will be HB 589, or the Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law – which was enacted in summer 2017. Under the law, Duke Energy will add roughly 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity over the next few years. It will also offer $62 million in rebates to customers who want to install private solar systems and allow larger customers to secure renewable energy.

Duke Energy connected one of its largest solar facilities in 2017 – the 60-megawatt Monroe Solar facility in Union County. Its annual output is roughly equal to what 10,000 homes would use during a year.

Last week, the company proposed a number of solar programs for customers – from solar rebates to a shared solar program.

In the spring, the company will request bids for approximately 600 megawatts of new solar capacity that can be built by Duke Energy and other companies in North Carolina. The bidding process will ensure customers get the best price for new solar energy.

Overall, through its regulated utilities and Duke Energy Renewables, the company owns and operates more than 35 solar facilities in North Carolina totaling almost 550 megawatts of capacity.

Our big takeaway from SEIA’s latest Grid Modernization report: Utilities need to step up

In the Carolinas

As part of Duke Energy’s plan to modernize its energy grid and transition to cleaner energy, the company has added 1,800 megawatts of solar capacity in North Carolina and South Carolina over the past three years. Two-thirds of Duke Energy’s electric generation capacity additions since 2015 in the Carolinas have been solar power.

According to the Integrated Resource Plans of Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, solar power and energy efficiency will make up one-third of all new generation capacity additions in the Carolinas over the next 15 years.

“We are focused on delivering affordable, reliable and cleaner energy to our customers,” said Caldwell. “Our record for renewable energy over the past three years is an indication of what we will continue to do in the future.”

— Solar Builder magazine