Demand for solar panels surges in North Carolina

Demand for solar panels surges in North Carolina

Photo: Courtesy Duke Energy

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A record number of North Carolinians installed solar energy systems in their homes and businesses in 2020, according to Charlotte-based Duke Energy.

Driving the news: Last year, about 1,700 customers took advantage of a Duke Energy rebate that the company says can save customers between $4,000-$6,000 on upfront costs on solar energy systems.

  • That’s a big chunk, though it costs around $28,000-$31,000 on average to install solar energy panels at a private residence, says Sha Stollar, marketing director at Renu Energy Solutions, which installs solar panels in the Carolinas.

Why it matters: Solar panels are a reliable access to power, Stollar said, and that’s increasingly important to customers who work from home. People are turning to solar for a number of reasons, including an increase interest in sustainability.

  • Low interest rates have prompted homeowners to refinance their mortgages during the pandemic, too. “When you refinance, you can roll in home improvements like roofs, solar panels and decks, into one loan,” Stollar said.
  • Using solar energy can also help cut down on energy bills.

By the numbers: Last year, about 5,500 Duke Energy customers installed private solar systems at their homes and businesses.

  • Since 2017, Duke Energy has tripled rooftop solar customers in North Carolina — from 6,000 to 18,000 currently, Duke spokesperson Randy Wheeless said.

Zoom out: Across the nation, customers have been investing more in their homes and undertaking DIY projects during the pandemic. That’s clear in the surge in sales at home improvement retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot.

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