RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If I go “green” and your electricity bill goes up 25 cents a month, will you mind?

Solar panels could be coming to a rooftop near you if Duke Energy Carolinas’ latest proposal for alternative energy production wins regulatory approval.

Duke is asking the North Carolina Utilities Commission to approve a plan that would put the electricity-producing panels on around 800 buildings ranging from homes to manufacturing facilities. If approved by the state Utilities Commission, Duke says it will spend $100 million to install and operate the equipment.

Once in place, the panels would produce enough power for about 2,600 homes, according to Duke. To pay for the project, average utility bills would go up 25 cents.

Duke certainly isn’t pitching the solar project as an answer to finding more environmentally friendly means of producing power. As the Charlotte Observer pointed out, one coal-fired plant Duke is building would generate 800 megawatts.

And Progress Energy officials discussed at public hearings on Tuesday in the Triangle its plans to build another nuclear reactor at Shearon Harris.

But Duke’s modest solar plan is one of several for the Charlotte-based utility. It has already agreed to buy all the power to be produced by a solar “farm” to be built near the Queen City. And it is investing in wind farms.

All these efforts are part of Duke’s unfolding strategy to meet standards set by North Carolina law to generate 12.5 percent of its power from “renewables” such as solar and wind and also increase efficiency. (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard ).

Home and business owners who sign on for the Duke solar project wouldn’t have to worry about the equipment. Duke will own and maintain it. Plus, there’s an added benefit:

“Customers who agree to place solar panels at their location would be rewarded based on the size of the installation and the amount of energy it produces,” Duke said.

As for the rest of us, we may have to pay more for the energy we use. Is going “green” going to be worth the cost in additional greenbacks?

As the green movement continues to gain momentum, we’ll soon begin to find out how many folks will step up and participate – or fight.

Meanwhile, I hope someone soon develops a solar system small enough to power a car. I’d prefer that to $4 (soon to be $5?) gas.