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Selling the Sun: NC Programs Offer Solar Rebates, Discounts

The Thomason family of Charlotte added home solar panels earlier this summer and already reports a decrease in its electric bill. (Courtesy of Bob Thomason)
The Thomason family of Charlotte added home solar panels earlier this summer and already reports a decrease in its electric bill. (Courtesy of Bob Thomason)
August 23, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – North Carolina electric bills are on the rise after the state Utilities Commission approved a rate increase this summer of about $1 a month for the average bill.

With another scheduled increase in four years, solar companies are working with homeowners who've decided to combat higher bills with solar panels.

There's still a 30 percent federal tax rebate for solar installations, as well as rebates from Duke Energy for as much as $6,000.

And some installers offer another 10 percent discount to Clean Air Carolina members, says Jeff Redwine, co-owner of Renewable Energy Design Group.

"We've seen the price point of technology drop significantly, and we are excited about where the industry is right now in the residential sector or in small scale commercial, where it's making it more affordable than ever," he states.

At least 1,500 customers have applied for the Duke rebates since the program started in July, equaling 16-megawatts of installed solar energy.

Clean Air Carolina has more information about membership, discounts and its partner solar-installation providers.

Charlotte resident Bob Thomason took advantage of the program as soon as he heard about it, and says it was easy to do.

"The way to look at it is that you're buying 10 years of electricity and paying for it right now,” he points out. “You're buying a little power plant to put on your roof. As far as it being trouble to install one of these things, it's really not. They did it in a day."

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, every megawatt-hour of electricity generated by solar panel avoids more than 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide and five pounds of sulfur dioxide emissions, both of which contribute to depletion of the earth's ozone layer.

Redwine says the partnership with Clean Air Carolina has been effective in getting the message out.

"Working with Clean Air Carolina to offer the additional 10 percent not only helps the public understand what their initiative is, but also gets out the message of how affordable solar energy can be," he points out.

SEIA says the price of solar panels has dropped by more than half in the last five years, and North Carolina ranks second in the country for installed solar capacity.

Stephanie Carson/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NC