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Duke Energy Proposes Solar Rebate Program

CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy announced Monday a proposed a $62 million solar rebate program to help its North Carolina customers pay the upfront cost of installing solar panels on their property.

A residential rooftop solar installation. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Kenji Thuloweit

The utility said the move is the first of three customer programs Duke Energy is proposing as part of the implementation of changes to the state’s renewable energy policy that the North Carolina General Assembly passed in 2017. The measure, Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law, or House Bill 589, was part of a reform package also included an 18-month moratorium on wind energy projects in the state pushed by Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, the majority leader in the Senate.

Duke Energy has about 6,000 customers with private solar systems. The proposal, which must be approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission, will increase North Carolina’s private solar market by 200 percent during the next five years, according to Duke Energy.

Under the program, residential customers will be eligible for a rebate of 60 cents per watt for solar energy systems 10 kilowatts 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 a 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.

The program would also feature a solar leasing option, whereby customers, instead of owning the system, can lease solar panels from another company.

“We are structuring our program to give customers more flexibility on how to adopt solar resources,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “Of course, customers have to determine if solar energy fits their needs.”

Duke Energy said it will roll out the following additional programs this year:

Shared Solar – To allow customers who do not want, or can’t have, a solar array on their property to subscribe to the output of a nearby solar facility.

Green Source Advantage – To 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.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.