Editorial: Consumers embrace renewable energy, so should N.C. legislative leaders
Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 -- Duke Energy's roof top solar rebates were gone in a flash. That should be a bright signal to North Carolina policy makers. It is past time to expand opportunities to embrace renewable energy and put the state back on the road to national leadership in growing its clean energy economy.Posted — Updated
That was way more applicants than money – about $10 million – available.
What's the impact of the program? A year ago, there were 5,700 Duke rooftop solar customers. Today there are more than 9,000 – a nearly 60 percent increase. “Our rebates are driving solar adoption in the state,” said Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless.
The rebates are significant – up to $6,000 for homeowners, $50,000 for businesses and $75,000 for non-profits such as faith-based facilities. The rebates are in addition to a federal tax credit of 30 percent (which drops to 26 percent in 2020).
Consumers both get a break on the cost of installing the solar panels and on their utility bill. Duke Energy increases its generating capacity without the significant investment of building new power plants.
Public officials along with public and private energy generators and distributors should take notice and look for appropriate ways to encourage expanded residential use of renewable energy. Gov. Roy Cooper has noticed and has been leading efforts to grow the clean energy economy.
Our legislative leaders have been out of step with both North Carolinians desires and our neighboring states energy policies. Virginia and South Carolina have looked to expand opportunities for solar capacity and offshore wind energy development while appropriately remaining highly skeptical at efforts to make our coastal waters open to fossil fuel exploration and development.
North Carolina’s legislators have passed laws making it more difficult to deploy offshore wind energy – even though studies have shown the state has one of the best resources for it on the east coast. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has designated two areas off the state’s coast appropriate for wind energy development.
These solar rebates were gone in a flash. It should be a bright signal to North Carolina policy makers. It is past time to expand opportunities to embrace renewable energy and put the state back on the road to national leadership in growing its clean energy economy.