Empowering Western NC and Upstate SC with Solar Since 1995

Yesterday Duke Energy announced a significant solar rebate  program in their SC territory. This utility incentive, along with State and Federal tax credits ( 25% and 30% respectively,) makes solar a strong investment for home owners and businesses alike. Solar panels could soon be as synonymous with SC as the Palmetto Tree is, bringing economic growth along with clean energy benefits to the state.

For initial information on this rebate, we are sharing an article posted  in the Charlotte Business Journal on October 13:

Duke Energy solar rebates could save S.C. customers up to 33% on installation

Duke Energy’s residential and commercial customers in South Carolina who want to install solar projects on their property qualify for a $1 per watt rebate on new solar systems starting today.

With solar installations costs generally in the $3 to $4 per watt range, the rebate can reduce the cost to customers 25% to 33%.

The rebate applies to Duke (NYSE:DUK) residential customers who install up to 20 kilowatts of solar capacity at their home. An average home system is about 5 kilowatts, which would mean a $5,000 rebate under the plan.

Business customers can qualify for a rebate on systems of up to 1 megawatt in size. That would put the maximum rebate for business customers at $1 million.

The rebates are available until a total of 6 megawatts of new solar have been added to the Duke Energy Progress grid and 27 megawatts have been added to the Duke Energy Carolinas grid in the state. Projects installed as far back as Jan. 1 of this year also qualify for the program.

The rebates are part of Duke’s Distributed Energy Resource program, established to meet the requirements of legislation passed by the S.C. General Assembly in 2014 to encourage the adoption of solar and other distributed-energy sources in the state.

The rebate program is part of Duke’s overall solar plan for South Carolina. It looks to increase the amount of solar power on the grids for Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas from about 2 megawatts today to as much as 170 megawatts by 2021.

Net metering

Duke does not have any similar rebate program for residential and business customers in North Carolina.

“For many of our residential and small business customers, installing solar on their property is a significant investment,” says Clark Gillespy, Duke’s South Carolina president. “We believe a rebate coupled with our net metering incentive provides customers a meaningful financial incentive to seriously consider going solar.

The net metering incentive, adopted this summer as part of the same distributed-energy effort, will allow customers to earn a credit of one kilowatt-hour for every kilowatt-hour they produce and send to the Duke grid.

The one-for-one offer is an incentive because Duke does not ordinarily have to pay independent power producers anything more than what is called its “avoided costs.” That is a calculation, approved by regulators, of how much it would cost Duke to produce an additional kilowatt hour of power.

Additional construction

Avoided costs are currently about half what customers residential customers pay for electricity. But Duke has agreed to maintain the one-for-one kilowatt hour incentive through 2025.

Duke currently offers one-for-one net metering in North Carolina.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed South Carolina’s Distributed Energy Resource Program Act last year. It called for each utility in the state to submit a plan for expanding solar and other distributed-energy resources. Duke’s plan was approved by the S.C. Public Service Commission in July.

In August, Charlotte-based Duke moved forward with another part of the distributed-energy plan for South Carolina. It called for solar developers to submit plans for 58 megawatts worth of new solar capacity in the state. Proposals were originally supposed to be submitted by today. But the company recently gave developers another two weeks to respond to allow for problems created by the recent flooding in South Carolina.

John Downey covers the energy industry and public companies for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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