Solar Savings: North Carolina Rolls Out Solar Energy Cost Cutting Programs


Two major Duke Energy solar energy programs are rolling out this month in North Carolina, making solar more abundant and affordable for customers.

The two programs include:

  • Solar Rebates – Applications are being accepted now from customers interested in Duke Energy’s five-year, $62 million solar rebate program. The program is expected to more than double the number of private solar energy customers in North Carolina over the next five years.
  • Competitive Bidding RFP – Duke Energy is looking to add 680 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in the Carolinas to increase its diverse energy mix. Today, it filed a request for proposal (RFP) for companies to build future large-scale solar or other renewable facilities in the Duke Energy territories of North Carolina and South Carolina. At peak output, 680 MW of solar capacity can power more than 100,000 homes.

“North Carolina has been able to achieve leadership in the use of solar energy, second only to California, spurred by a variety of programs that have helped to reduce the cost of installing solar systems,” said Peter M. Schwarz, professor of economics and associate at the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), UNC Charlotte. “The new programs that Duke Energy is now introducing will continue to spur the growth of solar energy, contributing to economic development while helping to protect the environment.”

Solar Rebates Program

Under the rebate 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.

Commercial 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. 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.

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.

The program is similar to a successful one in South Carolina that passed the $50 million mark in customer rebates earlier this year. The program was also part of a collaborative piece of energy legislation – Act 236 – signed into law in 2014.

Competitive Bidding Program

Under North Carolina’s competitive bidding provision, Duke Energy will solicit bids for projects totaling 680 MW of new renewable energy capacity. The bids can come from any company, including Duke Energy, and can be in the form of a power purchase agreement (PPA), utility self-developed facilities or asset acquisitions. Proposals must be for a single facility between 1 and 80 MW and capable of being placed in service prior to Jan. 1, 2021.

An independent administrator will manage the bidding process and help select the most cost-effective bids.

Duke Energy already has more than 2,500 MW of solar capacity connected to its grid, which includes those owned by Duke Energy and those owned and operated by other companies. Overall, North Carolina is the No. 2 state in the nation for solar power capacity.

Bids for new projects are due Sept. 11.



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