Duke Energy solar rebate program issues $5M to SC customers

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Industrial worker installing solar panels on a roof. photovoltaic; rooftop solar; renewable energy; Shutterstock 61884133

Almost one year after its launch, the Duke Energy Solar Rebate Program has issued about $5 million in rebates to its South Carolina customers who have invested in solar power.

“The response to the rebate program has been fantastic,” said Clark Gillespy, president of Duke Energy South Carolina. “This shows our customers want options to help them participate in a sustainable solar energy marketplace.”

Duke Energy designed the rebate program to help customers with the cost of solar panel installation. It launched the program after the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act (Act 336) passed in 2014. The bill increased on-site solar production limits and allowed utilities to build solar and regain the costs.

Currently, Duke Energy offers a small and large solar rebate program. Both offer $1 per watt of installed generating capacity direct current. The small rebate is open to residents with solar panel systems producing 20 kilowatts (kW) or less. The large rebate program is open to businesses producing more than 20 kilowatts and less than 1,000 kilowatts.

This means a residential customer who installs a 5-kilowatt system could earn rebates of about $5,000 under the small solar rebate program. Likewise, a business that installs 50 kilowatts could earn a rebate of $50,000. Customers typically receive rebates a month after the solar installation is online and certified by Duke Energy.

Duke Energy also started offering net metering earlier this year, allowing customers to earn a credit of one kilowatt-hour for every kilowatt-hour they produce and send to the Duke Energy Grid. The offer is available through 2025 for current customers.

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

So far, more than 750 residential customers and 35 businesses have applied for solar rebates. That has created more than 30 megawatts of solar power, which is more than half of the 53-megawatt goal cited in Act 336.

That goal could be in sight as additional solar farms are being installed throughout the Upstate. Furman University plans to build the largest solar farm on a college campus in South Carolina. The $1.7 million solar farm will be located on six acres near Furman’s main entrance on Poinsett Highway and will have an output of 743-kW.

Duke Energy is offering a $997,000 rebate, one of the largest the company has committed to since the start of the solar rebate program, said Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier. The solar farm is projected to be finished sometime in 2017.

Also, Glen Raven Inc. plans to build a $2 million solar farm through the Duke Energy Solar Rebate Program at its Anderson-based Sunbrella manufacturing center. The 1000-kW project will become the largest solar energy installation in the Upstate owned by a privately held company. The solar farm will be online in January 2017.

The solar rebate program is creating more than just economic benefits.

In the U.S., carbon dioxide accounts for 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which can cause multiple health issues such as asthma and heart attacks. But many companies are adopting clean energy sources such as solar. These sources reduce the use of power plants, which account for 31 percent of U.S. emissions, according to the EPA.

Furman University’s solar farm will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three percent, supporting the school’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2026, said Jeff Redderson, associate vice president for facility and campus services.

Glen Raven’s solar farm is going to offset 317 tons of carbon emissions annually – the equivalent of planting 2,500 tree seedlings annually – and can supply energy to about 105 homes, according to Edmund Gant, sustainable development manager.

Interested residents must be receiving electric service from Duke Energy and own the property where solar is installed. Once the program is fully subscribed, customers can install more solar power using tax credits through the state and federal government.

For more information, please visit duke-energy.com/SCSolarRebates.

Photo provided by Duke Energy. 

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