Duke Energy Aiding Solar Expansion in North Carolina

So far in January, Duke Energy filed three renewable energy programs with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to expand renewable energy options for its 3.2 million customers in the state.

The Solar Rebate, N.C. Shared Solar and Green Source Advantage programs are part of a portfolio of customer offerings the company is proposing as part of the Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina law – sometimes referred to as HB 589.

North Carolina is second in the nation for overall installed solar capacity. Duke Energy has more than 35 solar facilities in the state.

$62 Million Solar Rebate Program 

Under a new 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. 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.

Shared Solar

The N.C. Shared Solar program (a.k.a. “community solar”) allows customers to subscribe to the output of a solar facility. Community solar is a solution for residential or small commercial customers who don’t have roofs suitable for solar, such as renters or apartment/condo dwellers.

By law, costs for Duke Energy’s shared solar program cannot be subsidized by non-participating customers. The proposed program includes working with communities and stakeholders to minimize costs to participating customers. 

To gauge customer interest, the company proposes starting the program with approximately 1-megawatt (AC) facilities in the Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress territories.

The company will launch an RFP after the NCUC approves the program. In the meantime, the company will reach out to solar developers to see what types of projects are best suited for the program and gathering input from local communities to help increase accessibility.

Green Source Advantage

The proposed Green Source Advantage program provides military installations, University of North Carolina institutions and large nonresidential customers the option to secure large amounts of solar or other renewable energy to satisfy their sustainability or other clean energy goals.

The program gives customers options on how they procure renewable energy. They may choose to purchase renewable energy at competitive prices through the existing competitive bidding process, or self-supply by partnering directly with a solar developer. The program also gives customers flexibility in how they procure their renewable energy and their ability to negotiate contract terms.

The law allows up to a total of 600 MW of reserved renewable energy capacity over the five-year life of the program. From that 600 MW, 100 MW of capacity will be reserved for major military installations, 250 MW of capacity will be reserved for the University of North Carolina system, and the remaining 250 MW will be available for large nonresidential customers.

These customers must have energy demands of at least 1 MW of peak demand at a single location, or an aggregate of 5 MW or more of peak demand across multiple locations.

The Green Source Advantage program builds on successes of the company’s former Green Source Rider program, which helped three major companies secure solar power for North Carolina facilities in 2015 and 2016.

All three programs must be approved by the NCUC before they can be offered to customers.

Lead image: Solar installation. Credit: Pixabay.

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