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  • Writer's pictureSarah Lozanova

Installing Solar Panels In North Carolina For Businesses And Homeowners

Aerial view of the Raleigh skyline in North Carolina.

North Carolina is a leading state for solar energy generation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), over 9% of the state’s electricity comes from solar power. By contrast, South Carolina gets less than 3% of its power from solar energy. Some of the success in North America is due to state government support for clean energy, such as a strong Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard and net metering programs. In particular, there are a lot of utility-scale solar farms, but the residential solar energy market has grown significantly in recent years.

These actions are helping to reduce North Carolinia’s dependence on fossil fuels and reduce power bills. As a result, there are many opportunities for solar installation companies in North Carolina.

Things To Consider For Potential Solar Customers In North Carolina

When considering installing a solar system in North Carolina, there are several important factors that potential customers should consider. These factors can significantly impact the electricity output and utility bill savings from the solar installation.

Despite North Carolina having good solar resources, not all residential and commercial properties are well suited for solar panels. Many of these potential issues can be identified when conducting a solar site survey or perhaps before when screening leads.

  • Shading from trees, buildings, and chimneys can cast shadows on the solar panels and significantly affect their output. Midday shading is especially detrimental to solar energy production.

  • The age and condition of the roof are crucial considerations for rooftop solar systems. Solar panels typically last for 25 to 30 years, so it's important to ensure the roof is in good condition and won't need replacement soon. If so, it’s best for the customer to replace the roof before installing the PV panels.

  • The sun number is a metric that assesses the solar suitability of a specific location. It takes into account factors such as local climate, weather patterns, shading, and roof orientation. A higher Sun Number indicates greater solar potential. If the sun number is too low, it might not be worthwhile for the client to go solar.

  • It's essential to evaluate the energy needs and consumption patterns on the property. Many businesses are subject to demand charges, which can significantly impact electric bills. Understanding how much electricity is used on average will help determine the appropriate system size and potential energy savings.

  • Various financial factors are important considerations, such as the upfront cost of the solar system, available incentives and rebates, potential tax benefits, financing options, and the estimated payback period.

  • It's essential to research and understand the local regulations, solar permitting process, and any homeowners association rules related to solar panel installations.

Solar Panel Costs In North Carolina

Solar system costs are a bit lower in North Carolina than the U.S. average, at about $3.04 per watt installed before incentives, according to EnergySage. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average size of a residential solar system in North Carolina is 7.8 kW, which is a bit smaller than the national average. Therefore, the average cost of a residential solar system in North Carolina is about $23,700 before solar incentives.

The average payback period for a residential solar panel system in North Carolina is about 13 years, according to EnergySage. The payback period is a bit longer than the national average of 8.7 years. This is because although North Carolina has an excellent solar resource, it has relatively low-cost electricity.

The average residential electricity rate is 13.21 cents per kWh in North Carolina, compared to 16.11 cents per kWh nationally, according to the Energy Information Administration. Likewise, the average commercial electricity rate is 9.35 cents per kWh in North Carolina, compared to 12.22 cents per kWh nationally. These are state averages though, and may vary by the utility company.

North Carolina Solar Panel Incentives

Homeowners and businesses can qualify for a variety of solar energy incentives that help reduce the total cost of a solar panel system or boost the eligible energy bill savings.

Federal Income Tax Credit

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a federal solar tax incentive to encourage renewable energy projects, so it is available to North Carolina residents. The ITC is designed to reduce the total cost of installing solar panels and other eligible renewable energy technologies.

This solar incentive allows eligible businesses and homeowners to claim 30% of their qualified renewable energy expenditures as a tax credit. Beware of giving potential customers tax advice and recommend they speak with a tax specialist to ensure they qualify for the federal solar tax credit.

State And Local Programs

There are several local incentives to help encourage solar energy use in North Carolina. However, the North Carolina solar rebate program through Duke Energy has ended.

Net Metering

North Carolina utility companies offer net metering to customers with solar energy systems. This allows them to receive utility bill credits for surplus solar electricity they supply to the utility grid. To participate in net metering, residential and commercial utility customers must submit interconnection paperwork to Duke Energy or the local electric company and receive permission.

Property Tax Abatement For Solar Electric Systems

Installing a solar system can significantly increase property values. However, this property tax abatement law exempts 80% of the value of the solar system from increasing the property taxes. This helps reduce the cost to your customers of owning a solar panel system.

Community Solar

Due to House Bill 589, Duke Energy and Duke Progress must have community solar farms available to customers on a first-come-first-serve basis. Multiple households or businesses can become subscribers to a community solar farm and receive utility bill credits for the solar energy that is generated at community solar farms.

Solar Permit Fee Rebate In Asheville

The City of Asheville, North Carolina, offers a $175 rebate for the permitting fees for solar energy systems. However, this incentive is only offered for projects within Asheville city limits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Solar Panels In North Carolina

Let’s examine some of the FAQs we hear about installing solar power systems in the Tar Heel State.

Are solar panels worth it in North Carolina?

Yes, solar panels are likely worth it for homeowners and businesses in North Carolina. The state has abundant sunlight, so it is a favorable location for solar energy generation. Also, North Carolina solar incentives, such as net metering and solar property tax exemptions, make solar panels a cost-effective and environmentally friendly investment.

Are there free solar panels available in North Carolina?

Although there are solar energy incentives available to homeowners and businesses, there aren’t any truly free solar panel programs. Some solar companies might advertise free solar panels, but these are typically solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) programs where participants must pay a monthly lease fee.

Solar Energy Has Huge Potential In North Carolina

Similar to Florida and Virginia, North Carolina has a strong solar energy market due to ample solar resources and renewable energy incentive programs. According to the SEIA, more than 1 million homes are powered by solar electricity in North Carolina, and this number is growing each year. There are currently a lot of utility-scale solar farms, but there is huge potential in the residential and commercial solar sectors as well. If you are looking to expand the service area of your solar company, North Carolina might be an excellent market.

Keep in mind that GreenLancer’s network extends to all 50 states, so you can partner with us for projects in North Carolina and beyond!

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