Duke Energy Corp. has proposed $62 million in rebates for residential and commercial solar projects in North Carolina over the next five years.
The rebates will be offered shortly after the N.C. Utilities Commission approves the rebate program, but installations made after Jan. 1 will qualify retroactively. Duke filed the rebate proposal Monday.
Duke projects the rebates will encourage 12,000 new residential- and commercial-scale solar installations. That would be up from 6,000 such installations in the state now.
Subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress will offer residential customers installing a system of 10 kilowatts or less a rebate of 60 cents per watt.
So, for example, a typical customer installing an 8-kilowatt solar system would qualify for a $4,800 rebate. That significantly reduces the upfront costs for the customer. The maximum rebate for a residential customer would be $6,000.
A typical residential installation at current costs would run between $22,000 and $26,000, says Stew Miller, co-founder and president of Yes! Solar Solutions in Cary. The rebate for projects in that range would be $4,200 to $5,400 he says. “You can see that it’s a substantial savings,” he says.
Ultimately, it can cut about 20% from the price of a residential project.
And the rebate will be available on systems that customers lease from third-party owners. Leasing can eliminate the upfront costs completely for the customer, and the rebate will reduce the cost of the lease.
“We are structuring our program to give customers more flexibility on how to adopt solar resources,” says David Fountain, Duke’s N.C. president. “For many customers, installing solar is a significant investment.”
Commercial customers would be eligible for smaller rebates of 50 cents per watt for up to 100 kilowatts, for a maximum of $50,000.
A more generous rebate will be offered for nonprofit organizations — churches, charities and similar institutions — for up to 100 kilowatts. They will get 75 cents per watt, for a maximum rebate of $75,000.
Miller says this is a particularly important feature of the program, since nonprofits can benefit substantially from lower energy bills. It works better for nonprofits than the tax credit the state once offered for solar installations because such organizations could not take advantage of those credits.