Written by Ucilia Wang

Duke Energy ( DUK) on Thursday presented to the North Carolina Utilities Commission a revised distributed solar project that calls for spending $50 million instead of $100 million to install solar panels on rooftops and the ground.

bu The utility filed the revised proposal earlier this week after facing strong objections from commercial customers and the commission staff representing consumers, reported the Charlotte Observer. Other critics contend that Duke didn't give non-utility solar power producers a chance to participate, but the utility said it has sought bids from those producers.

Duke's chief technology officer David Mohler touted the original proposal as late as last week, when he appeared on a panel discussion at the Solar Power International conference in San Diego, Calif.

Duke previously proposed a $100 million project to install 20 megawatts of panels on the roofs and the ground of homes, businesses, schools and factories in central North Carolina. The two-year installation plan would cover up to 850 locations, generating more than 16 megawatts of power to feed the grid.

Under the new proposal, Duke will spend $50 million to install 10 megawatts of solar panels at up to 425 locations to get roughly 8 megawatts of energy. The utility, which will operate and maintain the solar panels, will still spread the project over a two-year period, said Paige Sheehan, a Duke spokeswoman.

Since the utility announced the proposal in June, it has had to contend with a series of complaints. Consumer advocates at the utilities commission said the project was too expensive and unnecessary for Duke to meet the state's renewable energy requirements, particularly when Duke already has another, 16-megawatt solar project underway with SunEdison.

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