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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Duke Energy solar rebates go fast; you have 1 more chance in July

Duke Energy has reached an agreement with some solar groups and installers to change the way it pays solar panel owners for excess energy.
David Boraks
Duke Energy says 3,431 property owners applied for solar rebates in January, but the program could only fund 802.

The latest round of applications for Duke Energy solar rebates in January was as competitive as ever and most customers came away empty handed — again.

Duke is in the fifth and final year of the $62 million rebate program, which was required by a 2017 state law.

The company got 3,431 applications during the early January window, but handed out just 802 rebates to homeowners and businesses, worth $3.4 million. Spokesperson Randy Wheeless said the 802 rebates used up all the capacity for home and business rebates this time around.

That's been the story ever since Duke started offering the rebates. They're worth up to $4,000 for homeowners and $30,000 for businesses. And they're typically oversubscribed shortly after the application window on Duke's website opens.

The one area where money remains is churches and nonprofits, which can get up to $75,000. Few churches, governments or nonprofits have applied over the past 4½ years. In the latest round, Duke got just nine applications from nonprofits across its two North Carolina territories.

Duke accepts solar rebate applications twice a year — in January and July. This summer will be the final round before the rebates go away.

Duke has proposed a new, limited solar incentive program as part of a controversial overhaul of rooftop solar regulations. But it comes with lots of strings attached and it's not clear if regulators will approve it.

Meanwhile, there's still a federal tax break for home solar, though that ends next year.

For more information about Duke Energy solar rebates, visit duke-energy.com/NCSolarRebates

A version of this story originally appeared in WFAE's weekly Climate newsletter.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.