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Duke Energy PowerPair Program Approved by NCUC

January 15, 2024
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An image with white text that says "Duke Energy's PowerPair Program" over a background of blue batteries.

In March 2023, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) rejected a Smart thermostat + solar incentive program proposed jointly by Duke and the solar industry. Instead, they ordered Duke to propose a residential solar + storage pilot program for Commission consideration. In June, 2023, Duke filed the proposed PowerPair Solar and Battery Installation Pilot. Following a lengthy stakeholder process, the NCUC issued a final order on January 12, 2024 approving the PowerPair Program. Duke will have until May 10, 2024 to launch the PowerPair Program. The following is a summary of the key highlights of the new program:

What does the PowerPair Program mean for consumers?

Ultimately, this program makes pairing storage with a new solar system more affordable. The average solar battery costs between $400-$750 per kilowatt-hour (kwh), meaning an average solar battery typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000 when you factor in installation costs. Under the new PowerPair Program, eligible consumers could receive up to $9,000 to cover applicable solar and energy storage costs. For example, a homeowner who was to install a new 10 kw solar system, an average sized solar sytem, the incentives of this program would total $7,600 ($3,600 for a solar incentive + $4,000 for a storage incentive), and individuals in Cohort B would be eligible for ongoing monthly incentives.

Who is eligible for the Duke Energy PowerPair Program?

The following eligibility criteria applies:

  • Applicant must be a Duke North Carolina customer (DEC or DEP) and own the home the system is installed at.
  • The Duke PowerPair rebate is only for solar+storage projects. There are no solar only incentives for residential customers through Duke Energy.
  • The application must be for a new solar system install (no system additions are considered) and the consumer must own or lease the equipment.
  • Applicants can not have reached commercial operation more than 90 days prior to submitting an application and must reach commercial operation within 270 days after receiving a reservation.
  • An Interconnection Approval (ICA) must be submitted before an incentive program application.
  • The system installer must first register with Duke Energy to participate in the Program.
  • The max export to the grid can not exceed 20 kW AC at any time. 
  • Internet connectivity must be maintained.
  • Only certain eligible battery types can participate.

Program Next Steps

  • March 1, 2024: Website live
  • May 10, 2024 - June 7: Initial PowerPair application open
  • July 9, 2024: Customers can begin enrolling an eligible* battery storage system

Program Caps

The following PowerPair Program caps apply:

  • 60,000 kW AC of solar total (~7,500 customers at an 8kW AC system size)
  • 50/50 split between Cohort A and B availability (30,000 kW AC each)

Two Participant Groups

Duke has proposed the Program offerings be broken down into two “Cohorts” of customers:

  • Cohort A (50% of participants) - Must enroll in Duke’s Successor Tariff w/ mandatory TOU rates. Customer retains complete control of the energy storage device and will receive the upfront solar + storage incentive payment only
  • Cohort B (50% of participants) - Must enroll in the Bridge Rate w/ optional TOU rates. Duke assumes control of the energy storage device during called “events” and the customer will receive the upfront incentive payments + monthly battery control incentive.

Incentive Structure

The following incentive structure applies for the PowerPair program:

  1. Solar incentive: $0.36/ Watt AC up to 10 kilowatt (kW). This incentive is good for one time, up to a max $3,600.
  2. Storage incentive:
  • Cohort A: $400/kWh up to 13.5kWh (one time, max $5,400)
  • Cohort B: $400/kWh up to 13.5kWh (one time, max $5,400) + battery control incentive of $6.50/kW/month (nominal/continuous output). The net battery control incentive system owner receives is $4.61/kW/month.

Cohort B - Battery Control

Duke Energy's PowerPair program has a mandatory battery control for Cohort B. This is described as follows:

  • Duke Energy will be allowed to remotely call a “control event” 18 times per winter season (Dec- Mar); up to 9 times per summer season (May- Sept); and up to 9 times in remaining months. 
  • A Control Event will send a signal to the battery and discharge it within 48 hours. 
  • Duke will not discharge below a 20% state of charge in the battery
  • Duke Energy also reserves the right for interruption outside of these parameters in the event continuity of service is threatened.

Application Process

  • First four weeks of the Program will be a lottery. If first year Program caps are met during this time, projects will be randomly selected or waitlisted
  • If first year program caps are not met during this period, the Program will remain open until the first year caps are met with all additional projects placed on a waitlist. 

Tax Reporting

All incentive payments will be reported to the IRS through a Form 1099.

Clawback Provisions

Duke's PowerPair program has the following clawback provisions:

  1. Early Termination Fee - An early termination fee will be assessed to any project removed from the Program prior to the term and will a prorated based on the months remaining and the total incentive amount paid
  2. Inoperable equipment charge - This charge will be a monthly proration of the total incentive payment and will be assessed each month following a 90- day grace period. Systems inoperable for 12- months straight after the 90- day grace period will be removed from the Program and have the early termination fee assessed

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