Duke Announces Solar on Customer Rooftops

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | October 14, 2009 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Utilities

Want solar on your rooftop, but can’t afford to buy the panels yourself? If you’re a Duke Energy customer, you can sign up with your utility to install their solar panels on your rooftop.

Duke Energy announced the selected sites of the first phase of its 10 megawatt, $50 million distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) program in North Carolina. The initial four sites are Duke commercial and industrial customers with systems ranging in size from 500 kilowatts to 1.6 megawatts. This is a popular solar  program – Duke Energy has stopped accepting applications from non-residential customers.

However, the residential solar program remains open for applications. Duke has pledged  to include up to 10% of the program for smaller residential systems (see pdf of Duke legal filing). We encourage Duke Energy customers to consider participating in this program, it is a great way to help cut global warming pollution and rely on clean, local energy resources.

Another option for solar energy is to contact one of the many solar companies that will install their solar panels on your rooftop. I was recently at a Congressional briefing and hear from FLS Energy’s Michael Shore who talked about how rapidly their Asheville, North Carolina company is growing. Customers who agree to have FLS Energy install one of their solar energy systems on the roof will then buy the energy from FLS Energy at a fixed price for the lifetime of the equipment. Since solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can be more costly than buying electricity at today’s prices, Michael particularly recommends solar thermal (hot water and heating systems), as they can help customers save on their energy bills immediately.

SACE supports both utility-owned (e.g., Duke Energy) and privately-owned systems (e.g, yours or one owned by FLS Energy) as essential to rapidly grow the distributed solar market. That’s’ why we supported Duke Energy’s distributed solar program when it was proposed to the North Carolina Utility Commission. Utilities must also play an active role in encouraging the development in privately-owned systems to realize the true transformational benefit of distributed solar energy, as Duke Energy has by partnering with FLS Energy on projects.

Solar energy projects, coupled with meaningful energy efficiency implementation, are critical to insulating electricity customers from the soaring costs of conventional power plant construction and spiking fossil fuel charges. Solar energy projects will deliver cleaner energy while driving renewable energy technology investment and job creation in North Carolina.

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