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

Duke Energy proposes awesome solar rebate program in North Carolina

solar rebates north carolina

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.”

Rebate Details

Duke Energy

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

Duke Energy takes full ownership of REC Solar

Duke Energy

Duke Energy has acquired full ownership of California-based REC Solar, which the company first acquired a majority interest in, in February of 2015. Duke Energy purchased the remaining shares of REC Solar in a cash transaction. Details were not disclosed.

REC Solar will be managed as an independent business unit of Duke Energy Renewables. Duke Energy Renewables’ experience in offsite solar and wind energy generation, microgrid, battery storage and other emerging technologies, will supplement REC’s onsite solar expertise.

“REC Solar complements our strengths in forming strategic partnerships with customers of all sizes,” said Chris Fallon, vice president Duke Energy Renewables and Commercial Portfolio. “Energy solutions specifically tailored to the commercial consumer will expand renewable energy opportunities for enterprise, municipal, educational and business customers, large and small.”

For example, the energy solutions deployed by Montgomery County, Maryland, partnering with Duke Energy Renewables, REC Solar and Schneider Electric, shows the opportunities afforded by tapping into a diversified energy portfolio. The county incorporated solar and high-efficiency heat delivered through a microgrid-as-a-service model to provide a more resilient and reliable power source that produces approximately 10.7 million kilowatt hours of solar energy per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3,629 metric tons.

“Duke Energy brings expertise in utility-scale renewables and enables us to be a one-stop-shop solution for customers in a complex marketplace,” said Matthew Walz, president & CEO of REC Solar. “We can offer our customers access to more financing options and diverse energy choices, whether it be offsite or onsite, battery storage, solar power or wind generation.”

Duke Energy Renewables’ renewable energy includes utility-scale wind and solar generation assets which total 2,900 MW across 14 states from 20 commercial wind and 63 solar projects.

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy says South Carolina solar rebate program a huge success

Duke Energy

Duke Energy is hyped about solar installations in South Carolina. Act 236, an omnibus solar bill passed by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2014, opened the door for Duke Energy to offer a variety of solar programs to customers, and offer them they have. The main rebate program provides $1 per watt for qualified residential customers who install systems up to 20 kilowatts on their property; and for business customers who install systems up to 1 megawatt on their property.

Nonprofit and governmental entities may be eligible to receive a rebate of $1.50 per watt for systems up to 20 kilowatts on their property.

What do you know — people like it

As a former college instructor on the topics of economics and finance, Bob Horst knows a good deal when he sees one. Horst had considered installing solar generation at his home, but the upfront cost – while steadily declining – are still a significant out-of-pocket expense. Once he heard about Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program, he jumped at the opportunity.

RELATED: Four steps for converting more solar sales 

“The rebate program brought my cost to install down significantly,” Horst said. “Since then, our bill has been nearly zero. Now I’m planning to buy an electric car, and I love the fact that I will be able to power that at home with solar energy.”

Scope of the program

In only one year, more than 1,800 residential customers and 125 business customers have applied to participate in Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program. The program will have paid nearly $12 million in rebates to South Carolina customers by the end of 2016. The rebates help with the upfront cost of installing solar panels for customers – making the technology more accessible to the company’s 730,000 customers in the state.

“Our customers have responded very positively to our solar rebate program,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president. “It’s expanded the choices our customers have in meeting their energy needs by helping to lower the upfront costs associated with building solar installations.”

More than 40 MW-ac of solar power is scheduled to come online already, putting Duke Energy more than halfway to the 53-megawatt goal cited by the act.

With the rebate program nearing capacity, a waiting list has been established for some of the offerings associated with this program. All applications for the rebate program must be vetted and approved. Should an application be denied, the waiting list will be used on a first-come, first-served basis.

Shared Solar program details

Though the rebate program is coming to a close, Duke Energy will begin offering in 2017 a Shared Solar Program. Shared solar allows customers who can’t or don’t want to put solar on their property the ability to participate in the economic and environmental benefits of solar.

 

— Solar Builder magazine