North Carolina’s 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. 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.
“For many customers, installing solar is a significant investment. Duke Energy’s rebate program will help them by lowering their initial costs,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy's North Carolina president.
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 percent over the next five years, providing an economic boost for the state’s solar installation business as well.
"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,” said Ivan Urlaub, NCSEA's executive director.
The program needs to be approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission. Under the program, residential customers will be eligible for a rebate of 60 cents per watt 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 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.
The program would also provide customers with 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,” added Fountain. “Of course, customers have to determine if solar energy fits their needs.”