Here Are The New North Carolina Solar Incentives


by Eric Lam - Published 1/7/2024


Solar incentives play a crucial role in promoting the adoption of solar energy, and North Carolina offers a range of incentives to encourage residents to invest in solar power.

These incentives are designed to make solar installation more affordable, reduce energy bills, and increase the value of properties.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various solar incentives available in North Carolina, including:

  • The Federal Solar Tax Credit
  • State Tax Credit
  • Net Metering
  • Solar Rebates
  • Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)

Whether you are considering going solar or simply want to maximize the benefits of solar energy, understanding these incentives is essential for making informed decisions.

Key Takeaways:

  • North Carolina offers various solar incentives such as tax credits, net metering, rebates, and SRECs to promote the use of renewable energy.
  • These incentives help lower the cost of solar installation, reduce energy bills, and increase property value for residents in North Carolina.
  • To be eligible for these incentives, residents must meet certain criteria such as federal and state tax credit eligibility, net metering eligibility, and SREC eligibility.

What Are Solar Incentives?

Solar incentives are financial incentives designed to encourage the adoption of solar energy systems. These incentives aim to make solar power more affordable for individuals, businesses, and organizations, thereby accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources. Solar incentives can come in various forms, including:

  1. Tax Credits: Tax credits reduce the amount of income tax you owe to the federal or state government. In the United States, for example, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows you to deduct a percentage of your solar system's cost from your federal taxes.
  2. Rebates: Rebates are partial refunds post-purchase that lower the upfront cost of installing solar panels. These can be offered by state governments, local municipalities, or utility companies.
  3. Feed-in Tariffs (FITs): With FITs, the government pays solar energy system owners a set rate for the electricity they generate and feed back into the grid over a specified period. This rate is usually guaranteed to be higher than the retail electricity rate, providing a financial incentive to produce solar energy.
  4. Net Metering: Net metering allows solar system owners to sell excess electricity generated back to the grid at the retail rate, effectively reducing their utility bills. It ensures that owners receive credit for the electricity they contribute to the grid, often in the form of a deduction from their utility bills.
  5. Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs): PBIs pay solar energy producers a set amount per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated. Unlike FITs, PBIs are often offered by utility companies or local governments and may vary based on performance and market conditions.
  6. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs): RECs are credits that solar system owners can earn for generating renewable energy. Owners can sell these certificates to utilities needing to meet renewable energy standards or to companies looking to offset their carbon footprint.
  7. Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs): Similar to RECs, SRECs are specific to solar energy. In certain states, utilities are required to produce a portion of their electricity from solar power. SRECs can be sold to these utilities, providing additional income for solar system owners.
  8. Financing Options: Various financing options, such as solar loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs), can also be considered incentives. They provide pathways to solar adoption with little to no upfront costs for the consumer.

These incentives not only help reduce the initial investment and ongoing costs associated with solar energy systems but also promote environmental sustainability by supporting the growth of the renewable energy sector.

Why Are Solar Incentives Important in North Carolina?

Solar incentives are particularly important in North Carolina for several reasons, reflecting both the state's environmental goals and its economic interests. As one of the leading states in the United States for solar energy production, North Carolina's commitment to expanding its renewable energy portfolio is supported through various solar incentives. Here's why these incentives are critical in North Carolina:

  1. Encouraging Adoption of Solar Energy: North Carolina's solar incentives make installing solar panels more financially viable for homeowners, businesses, and utilities. By reducing the upfront costs and improving the return on investment, these incentives accelerate the adoption of solar energy across the state.
  2. Environmental Benefits: North Carolina, like many other states, aims to reduce its carbon footprint and combat climate change. Solar incentives contribute to this goal by increasing the amount of clean, renewable energy generated, thus decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Economic Growth: The solar industry has become a significant source of job creation in North Carolina. Incentives that stimulate the demand for solar installations also drive job growth in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and sales within the state's burgeoning green economy.
  4. Energy Independence: By investing in solar energy, North Carolina can reduce its dependence on imported energy sources, enhancing its energy security and stability. Solar incentives help build a more resilient and self-sufficient energy infrastructure.
  5. Support for Rural Communities: Solar farm developments in North Carolina often occur in rural areas, providing landowners with additional income opportunities through lease agreements. This influx of investment and economic activity can be transformative for rural economies.
  6. Utility Savings and Grid Stability: Solar incentives that promote net metering or the installation of battery storage systems can lead to utility savings for consumers and contribute to grid stability. By encouraging distributed solar generation, North Carolina can mitigate peak load pressures on its power grid, leading to a more stable and efficient energy system.
  7. Meeting Renewable Energy Targets: North Carolina has set ambitious renewable energy targets to increase the share of power generated from renewable sources. Solar incentives are crucial for achieving these targets, ensuring that the state remains a leader in the clean energy transition.

In summary, solar incentives in North Carolina are vital for fostering the growth of the solar industry, meeting environmental goals, stimulating economic development, and enhancing energy security. As the state continues to expand its renewable energy efforts, these incentives will play a key role in shaping North Carolina's energy future.

What Are the Solar Incentives in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a variety of solar incentives are available to encourage the adoption of solar energy among homeowners, businesses, and utility providers. These incentives are designed to make solar installations more affordable and to accelerate the state's transition towards cleaner energy sources. Notably, North Carolina offers a competitive investment tax credit (ITC) for solar installations, allowing residents and businesses to deduct a portion of their solar system cost from their state tax bill, in addition to the federal tax credit. This significantly reduces the upfront cost of going solar.

The state also supports net metering policies, enabling solar system owners to earn credits on their utility bills for surplus energy sent back to the grid. This arrangement allows for substantial savings on electric bills over time, making solar an attractive investment. Furthermore, North Carolina has established a rebate program through its major utilities, such as Duke Energy, which offers direct rebates for residential, commercial, and non-profit solar energy systems installed. These rebates can further lower the net cost of solar installations.

For larger solar projects, North Carolina offers property tax exemptions, ensuring that the added value of solar installations does not increase property taxes. This makes solar projects more financially viable, especially for commercial and utility-scale solar farms. Additionally, the state's participation in solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) markets provides an avenue for solar system owners to sell certificates generated by their systems, offering another potential revenue stream.

Finally, various financing options, including solar loans and power purchase agreements (PPAs), are available to help spread the cost of solar installations over time, making solar energy accessible to a broader range of individuals and organizations without requiring significant upfront investments.

These diverse incentives reflect North Carolina's commitment to increasing its renewable energy capacity, supporting economic growth in the clean energy sector, and providing its residents and businesses with the means to contribute to a more sustainable energy future.

What Are the Solar Rebates?

In April 2023, North Carolina offered specific solar rebates primarily through Duke Energy, one of the major utility companies serving the state. These rebates were designed to incentivize residential, commercial, and non-profit customers to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems by offering a direct reduction in the overall cost of going solar. Here's a breakdown of how these rebates were structured:

  1. Residential Customers: Homeowners who installed solar systems could qualify for a rebate of $0.60 per watt of installed capacity. For a typical residential solar system, this could translate into a rebate of up to $6,000, significantly offsetting the initial installation costs.
  2. Commercial Customers: Businesses installing new solar PV systems could receive a rebate of $0.50 per watt. This rebate was capped at $50,000 for commercial installations, providing a substantial financial incentive for businesses to invest in solar energy.
  3. Non-Profit Customers: Non-profit organizations and institutions (including schools, churches, and local governments) were eligible for a higher rebate of $0.75 per watt, with a maximum rebate of $75,000. This higher rebate rate recognized the limited fundraising and financing options available to non-profits and aimed to encourage more solar installations within this sector.

It's important to note that these rebates were subject to availability and were allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the popularity of the program, funds were often quickly committed, highlighting the high demand for solar installations among North Carolina residents and businesses.

Additionally, the specifics of these rebates, including the rates and caps, could change as policies and programs are updated. Potential solar customers in North Carolina should check the latest details with Duke Energy or their local utility provider and consult with solar installation companies to understand current incentives and how they can benefit from them.

How Do These Incentives Benefit North Carolina Residents?

The solar incentives available in North Carolina offer numerous benefits to residents, making the transition to solar energy both financially attractive and environmentally responsible. Here's how these incentives directly benefit North Carolina residents:

  1. Reduced Upfront Costs: The most immediate benefit of solar rebates and tax credits is the significant reduction in the upfront costs associated with installing solar panels. For example, Duke Energy's rebate program can lower the cost of solar installation by thousands of dollars for homeowners, making solar energy a more accessible option for a broader range of households.
  2. Lower Energy Bills: Through net metering policies, residents with solar installations can receive credit for excess electricity they generate and return to the grid. This arrangement can lead to substantial savings on electricity bills over time, as homeowners effectively sell surplus energy at retail rates, offsetting the cost of electricity they consume from the grid.
  3. Increased Property Value: Solar panels can increase a home's value. While North Carolina's property tax exemption for solar installations ensures that this added value does not result in higher property taxes, homeowners can still benefit from the increased value if they decide to sell their property, making solar panels a wise investment.
  4. Environmental Impact: By adopting solar energy, residents contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, aligning with broader environmental goals. This shift supports North Carolina's efforts to combat climate change and promotes a cleaner, more sustainable future.
  5. Energy Independence: Solar power can enhance energy independence by reducing reliance on the grid, especially during peak demand times or power outages. This increased self-sufficiency not only contributes to the resilience of individual households but also supports the overall stability of the state's energy infrastructure.
  6. Long-Term Savings: Solar panels have a long lifespan, often exceeding 25 years. The combination of reduced energy bills, incentives, and rebates means that over time, the cost savings from solar energy can be significant, offering long-term financial benefits to residents.
  7. Supporting Local Economy: The growth in solar installations drives job creation in the clean energy sector, contributing to the state's economy. By participating in the solar market, residents help support local businesses and contribute to job growth in their communities.

Overall, North Carolina's solar incentives not only make solar energy more accessible to residents but also promote economic and environmental health in the state. These benefits align with broader goals of sustainability, resilience, and community well-being, making solar incentives a key component of North Carolina's energy strategy.

How Can North Carolina Residents Take Advantage of These Solar Incentives?

North Carolina residents interested in leveraging solar incentives to reduce the cost of going solar and to maximize the benefits from their investment can follow several steps to take full advantage of these opportunities:

1. Research and Understand Available Incentives

  • Start by familiarizing yourself with the various state and federal incentives available for solar installations in North Carolina. This includes Duke Energy’s solar rebate program, the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net metering policies, and any local or utility-specific incentives.

2. Assess Your Solar Potential

  • Evaluate your property’s solar potential, considering factors such as roof space, orientation, shading, and local climate. Online tools and solar calculators can provide preliminary estimates, but consulting with a professional solar installer will offer more accurate assessments.

3. Choose a Qualified Solar Installer

  • Select a reputable solar installation company experienced with projects in North Carolina. Ensure they are familiar with local regulations, incentive application processes, and product eligibility. Qualified installers can also help you navigate the complexities of maximizing incentive benefits.

4. Apply for Incentives Early

  • Some incentives, like Duke Energy's solar rebate, are available on a first-come, first-served basis and may have limited funding. Submitting your application early increases your chances of securing a rebate. Work with your solar installer to prepare and submit all necessary documentation promptly.

5. Ensure System and Product Eligibility

  • Verify that your solar system and its components meet the eligibility criteria for the incentives you plan to apply for. This might include specific equipment certifications or performance standards. Your solar installer can guide you in selecting eligible products.

6. Claim Tax Credits

  • For the Federal Investment Tax Credit and any applicable state tax credits, consult with a tax professional to ensure you claim the benefit correctly on your tax returns. Keep detailed records of your solar investment and any rebates received, as you will need this information for tax purposes.

7. Stay Informed on Policy Changes

  • Solar incentives can evolve, with new programs introduced and existing ones modified or phased out. Stay informed about any changes to state or federal solar incentives by checking relevant government and utility websites regularly or maintaining communication with your solar installer.

8. Consider Financing Options

  • If upfront costs are a concern, explore financing options such as solar loans, which may have favorable terms thanks to the incentives and can make solar more accessible without requiring significant initial outlay.

9. Monitor Your System’s Performance

  • After installation, monitor your solar system’s performance to ensure you are maximizing your energy production and savings. Engage with net metering to get credit for the surplus energy you generate.

By following these steps, North Carolina residents can effectively take advantage of solar incentives to reduce installation costs, enjoy lower energy bills, and contribute to environmental sustainability. Always consult with professionals at each step of the process to make informed decisions tailored to your specific situation.

FAQ: Solar Incentives in North Carolina

Q1: What are solar incentives and why are they important in North Carolina? A1: Solar incentives are financial benefits designed to encourage the adoption of solar energy. In North Carolina, they are crucial for promoting renewable energy, reducing dependence on traditional power sources, and supporting sustainable development.

Q2: What types of solar incentives are available in North Carolina? A2: North Carolina offers various incentives like the Federal Solar Tax Credit, State Tax Credit, Net Metering, Solar Rebates, and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).

Q3: How do solar incentives benefit residents of North Carolina? A3: These incentives lower solar installation costs, reduce energy bills, and increase property values, making solar energy more accessible and financially beneficial.

Q4: What are the eligibility requirements for these solar incentives? A4: Eligibility varies based on factors like system size, installation compliance, and participation in renewable energy programs. Specific criteria apply for each incentive type, such as Federal and State Tax Credits, Net Metering, Solar Rebates, and SRECs.

Q5: How can residents take advantage of these solar incentives? A5: Residents can engage with certified solar companies, stay informed about incentives via platforms like SolarReviews and EnergySage, and use resources from industry organizations to navigate solar adoption and incentive utilization.