Duke's solar plans will add25 cents to area power bills

Duke Energy Corp. is moving ahead with a $100 million plan to install rooftop and ground-level solar systems at up to 850 N.C. homes and businesses.

The Charlotte-based utility filed an application with the N.C. Utilities Commission on Friday for the two-year plan, which the commission would have to approve.

The cost would add about 25cents to the average monthly N.C. power bill, Duke said.

The solar-power system collectively would generate more than 16megawatts, which would provide electricity for the power grid. In contrast, Duke's coal-fired power unit under construction at its Cliffside facility in the Blue Ridge foothills would produce 800 megawatts.

The utility is embracing renewable energy projects as it prepares to meet a new state requirement for Duke to produce at least 12.5 percent of its power by 2021 from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind.

With the solar equipment, the homes and businesses would become mini-power stations, working as an extended network feeding the regional power grid with electricity.

The utility also plans to finish outfitting 5,000 south Charlotte homes with “smart meters” this summer, which would relay information about available power at homes producing electricity from the solar-power systems and help track and analyze customer power use.