Duke Energy proposal would cut reimbursements for generating solar power

More people in North Carolina are using solar panels to power their homes, but a new proposal from Duke Energy would have an effect on customers who generate more power than they use.

The state actually ranks in the top four with the most solar panels in the country, and one bonus if you have solar panels is getting credit for generating more electricity that goes back to the power grid. However, the new proposal from Duke Energy would mean less credit.

“I usually have four months out of the year where I use no electricity from Duke,” said Randy Folsom, a homeowner in Mount Holly. “My electric bill has been cut in half.”

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That’s because Folsom generates more than enough to take care of himself. The way things are now, Duke Energy credits customers for any electricity that goes back to the grid, and it’s an even swap: one kilowatt-hour for one kilowatt-hour.

Duke’s proposal would change the even trade. Duke says it would factor in other costs, including fixed-use costs like poles, wires, and infrastructure in place. Duke Energy is also sending a minimum bill of $24 each month, which is $10 more than what customers currently pay.

That means it’s hard to say how much you’d exactly get in dollars or kilowatt-hours because it would be based on the costs at the time.

But Duke Energy acknowledges that in most cases, solar panel customers will get less back.

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Duke Energy says that the proposal would help customers maintain the value of their solar panels and help the company deal with a quickly changing market. The company added that it aims to ensure “customers who don’t have solar don’t end up paying more to support solar customers.” Several local solar companies agree with the plan.

The non-profit environmental group NC WARN opposes the plan, and so does Folsom.

“I’m not happy about that at all,” Folsom told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “For every kilowatt they take from me, they should reimburse me for that one kilowatt.”

If the proposal goes through, Folsom laments that there’s nothing he can do about it.

The NC Utilities Commission still has to approve the plan, but there’s no timeframe for when that could happen.

The good news for solar panel customers is that the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law last month increases the tax credit from 26% to 30%. According to Consumer Reports, if you put in solar equipment in your home over the next ten years, that means you can subtract 30% of the cost of installing it from your federal taxes.

(WATCH BELOW: CEO of Duke Energy says solar power for homes is potential threat)