The CEO of Duke Energy corporation, Jim Rogers, is the head of what is now the largest utility in the U.S. And he has announced that Duke Energy is considering expansion into the rooftop solar panel market… because it reduces electricity demand.
Rogers is not referring to grid-tie setups that involve net metering, because those offset electricity consumption from the grid by generating more electricity and supplying it to the grid: someone else that normally uses coal-derived electricity may use that solar electricity instead.
He is referring to systems that people use to generate their own electricity, so that they can buy less from the grid overall, and without supplying any power to the grid from which utilities profit. This threatens utilities greatly, whether they are ready to admit that or not.
“It is obviously a potential threat to us over the long term and an opportunity in the short term,” Rogers said in an interview. “If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using us for backup.”
Unsurprisingly, Duke would like to continue seeing its profits grow, and one way to do this is to expand its operations into providing rooftop solar systems.
Duke has capital available to fund an expansion into rooftop solar if the company decides to pursue the market, Good said. “Our thinking hasn’t matured to the point that we’re actively pursuing anything.”