Duke pushes solar at both distributed and utility-scale


Six months since its first proposal, Duke Energy announced this week the rollout of two programs to support the residential and nonresidential rooftop solar markets in North Carolina as well as its utility-scale solar porftoli in both Carolinas. The news comes at the same time of Duke’s acquisition of Invenergy’s 25MW Shoreham Solar Commons project.


Rooftop Rebates

On Monday, Duke began accepting online applications for customers in North Carolina to enter into their 5-year, $62 million rooftop solar rebate program.

For anyone else who thought that sounded like an NFL contract, there’s a Carolina connection there, too. Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly signed a 5-year $62 million extenion in 2015.

The rebate program incentivizes solar installations by reducing the up-front installation costs, which have held back private projects, even with the availability of net metering and the 30% federal tax break for installations.

Residential customers who are approved for rebates will get a 60-cent credit on every watt of solar they have installed, up to 10kW, or $6,000. Duke outlines that the average rooftop solar array is 8kW, meaning a $4,800 annual rebate. Businesses who apply will be eligible for a 50 cent per watt credit, while nonprofits are eligible for 75 cents per watt. These nonresidential projects cap out at 100 kW of installed capacity, meaning a maximum credit of $50,000 for businesses and $75,000 for nonprofits.

The rebates are given first-come first-served and have a maximum annual allotment of 20 MW. The program also comes with an option for perspective buyers to lease their arrays from third-party solar companies.


Regional competitive bidding RFP

On the utility side, Duke has filed a request for proposals (RFP) for potential projects in the Carolinas. Any company capable company will be able to apply to the competitive bidding process, including Duke itself. The winning projects will be awarded  power purchase agreements, new utility-owned developments or asset acquisitions on single facility projects from 1 to 80 MW, so long as the projects are capable of being placed in service prior to Jan. 1, 2021. 

The bid selection and approval process will be done by a third-party administrator and companies have until September 11 to submit bids.

These two programs are part of an ongoing trend by Duke to diversify its energy portfolio in the Carolinas. Duke is hoping to add 680 MW of renewable energy capacity in the sister states in the coming years.

“Duke Energy’s solar rebates and the competitive bidding program have been highly anticipated and will drive further solar-related investment, job creation and economic development for North Carolina,” said David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina. 

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