Duke Energy will begin offering solar rebates Monday in North Carolina. Solar energy advocates say it could help speed installations of rooftop solar panels.
Beginning Monday, Duke Energy customers will be able to apply online for a rebate of up to $6,000 for installing solar panels at your home. Businesses can get up to $50,000 and nonprofits up to $75,000.
North Carolina already ranks No. 2 in the U.S. for installed solar capacity — mostly because of large solar farms. But rooftop installations have lagged, especially since the end of a state tax credit in 2015. Duke has only about 6,000 right now.
"The launch of this program and its existence for the next five years should go a long way towards really jumpstarting that rooftop, particularly residential, solar market," said Dave Rogers, a North Carolina spokesman for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.
In North Carolina, homeowners must connect their solar panels to Duke Energy's power network. If they generate more electricity than needed, it flows onto the network in exchange for credits on their bills.
Solar saves money on monthly bills, but the upfront cost can run tens of thousands of dollars. These rebates, combined with a 30 percent federal tax break, will help, says Hannah Wiegard of ReNu Energy Solutions, a Charlotte solar installer.
"It's a very attractive set of incentives right now between the utility rebate and the federal tax credit," Wiegard said.
But there's a limit to how much Duke plans to spend on rebates — $62 million divided over five years. So rebates will disappear when the money runs out each year.
Wiegard said many of her customers will be applying for installations already completed since Jan. 1. She said we'll find out in a few weeks how much money is left in this year's allocation to the program.
N.C. Utilities Commission ruling approving the solar rebate program, NCUC.net
Get more information or sign up for Duke's solar rebate program at Duke-Energy.com