Duke Energy Progress is asking state regulators for permission to cut its financial incentive for SunSense, a popular residential solar energy program that has signed up more than 500 households since it was launched in 2010.
Progress wants to reduce its rebate to $250 per kilowatt, down from $500. The rebate was originally set at $1,000 per kilowatt, but it was cut in half last year.
The Raleigh-based utility told the N.C. Utilities Commission in a Friday filing that financial incentives for solar power should be reduced to reflect the falling cost of solar energy.
“The Company believes the lower upfront rebate reflects continued declines in the cost of solar,” the filing says.
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In its filing, Progress said the weighted average cost of a residential rooftop solar array has dropped about 30 percent from $7.79 a watt in 2011 to $5.49 a watt in 2013.
In the SunSense program, a residential solar array has to have a power capacity between 2 kilowatts and 10 kilowatts. The current rebate is between $1,000 and $5,000 per system, but it would be cut to $500 and $2,500 per system if the Utilities Commission approves the utility’s request.
SunSense participants also get a monthly credit of $4.50 per kilowatt for five years. That has remained unchanged since 2010 and Progress is not requesting a reduction. This rebate ranges from $9 to $45 a month, or $540 to $2,700 over 5 years, depending on the size of the system.
The incentives for solar and other renewable resources are paid by Progress power users as a surcharge in their monthly utility bills. Progress is a subsidiary of Charlotte-based Duke Energy.