Progress Energy, a Raleigh, NC-based utility, has completed a previously announced study showing that its residential customers could save $235 a year, or 63% of the water heating portion of their electric bill. The utility also offers commercial solar thermal incentives, as well.
Few people beyond solar thermal advocates realize that heating water with an electric hot water tank is tremendously inefficient, wasting both energy and money. So, it’s great to see a utility (in cooperation with the North Carolina Utility Commission) conduct a study on solar water heating savings.
The pilot program and study gave 150 Progress Energy customers a $1000 rebate toward the cost of buying a solar hot water heater. (Other North Carolina utilities currently offer cash rebates between $400 and $850 for residential solar thermal systems.) Progress estimated that over 15% of a typical home’s electric bill is used for heating water.
The costs of installing the solar thermal systems averaged $7,271 per household, ranging from $4,000 to $12,375 per home. However, that was before rebates and other incentives.
In addition to the $1000 rebate from Progress, homeowners also qualified for the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) and an additional 35% state tax credit of up to $1,400, which reduced the overall solar installation cost by about half.
While the Progress Energy’s residential pilot program has currently expired, Progress is still offering commercial solar water heating cash incentives. The utility will pay $20 for each renewable energy credit (REC) generated by the solar water heating system for a period of 10 years.
One REC represents one megawatt-hour (MWh) of avoided solar electric costs. To be eligible for the incentive, rooftop-mounted solar water heating systems must be installed in North Carolina (or South Carolina) on commercial property owned by a non-residential customer of PEC, and must have between 1,200 and 4,000 square feet of collector area (roughly 30 to 100 solar thermal panels). Solar thermal power purchase agreement (PPA) providers are also eligible.( North Carolina’s Duke Energy utility has a similar solar thermal program.)
Those generous incentive means that North Carolina apartment buildings, hospitals, hotels, and nursing homes are ripe for solar hot water installations.
To recap, a North Carolina utility study shows that North Carolina residential solar hot water heaters are cost effective, especially for solar electric customers. In addition, commercial customers can still benefit from cash incentives provided by Progress Energy.
If you have any questions about these programs, please contact us at Free Hot Water, and we’ll be happy to help.