By - Jim Vess

Duke Energy adds 565 MW of solar in the Carolinas, plans another 680 MW in 2019

Energize Weekly, February 6, 2019

Duke Energy installed 565 megawatts (MW) of solar in North and South Carolina in 2018, and the company says it has plans to roll out even more solar projects in 2019.

The 2018 projects bring total solar capacity installed in the two states in the last four years to 2,500 MW, enough to power about a half-million homes at peak output and has made North Carolina the number two state in the nation in solar behind California.

For 2019, Duke Energy said it has a goal of adding 680 MW of new solar capacity. The company has launched a competitive bidding process overseen by an independent administrator. “This will ensure the best and most cost-effective projects are built to benefit customers in the Carolinas,” the company said in a statement.

A total of 78 projects bid 3,900 MW of solar capacity in the first tranche—all at competitive prices, the company said.

In 2018, Duke Energy’s $62 million solar rebate program helped 1,700 North Carolina residential, commercial and nonprofit customers add solar panels. The program hit the capacity limits for both residential and non-residential customers.

Demand has been so strong that the allotment for 2019 has already been filled. Duke Energy said it will continue to offer the rebates—equal to $6,000 for a 10 kilowatt system—for the next three years.

Duke Energy also began offering solar leasing to commercial customers in 2018 through a subsidiary that will build, own and operate the onsite installations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The path to offering a leasing service was opened in North Carolina by the “Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina” law, which went into effect in 2017.

In South Carolina, the company is in the final stages of a $50 million solar rebate program initially launched in October 2015 that has added nearly 7,000 solar installations on residences and businesses.

The South Carolina program offered a $1-per-watt rebate on systems of up to 20 kilowatts for homes and 1 MW for businesses.

“Combined with constructive legislation, our programs have solar energy growing in both North Carolina and South Carolina,” Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology, said in a statement. “The response from customers has been strong. We expect demand and adoption to grow further as we roll out additional solar programs.”

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