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Installing Solar Panels & Using North Carolina Solar Incentives

Updated: Jan 23

solar incentives north carolina

North Carolina is a leading state for solar energy generation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), almost 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 for electric bill savings. In particular, there are a lot of utility-scale solar farms, but the residential solar energy market has grown significantly in recent years, partially due to North Carolina solar incentives.

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 contractors to install solar panels in North Carolina.

Solar Energy Statistics for North Carolina

There are 8,648 MW of installed solar energy capacity in the state, enough to power over 1 million homes. The cost of installing solar panels in North Carolina has fallen by 42% over the last decade, and there are more than 47,000 solar installations in the state.

Considerations for Installing Solar Panels in North Carolina

When assessing a home or business for a solar panel system in North Carolina, there are several important factors to 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 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 the state 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 residential solar panel system cost is about $23,700 before North Carolina solar incentives.

The average solar payback period for a residential solar panel system in North Carolina is between 9.8 and 13.2 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 14.75 cents per kWh in North Carolina, compared to 16.21 cents per kWh nationally, according to the Energy Information Administration data for October 2023. Likewise, the average commercial electricity rate is 10.58 cents per kWh in North Carolina, compared to 12.91 cents per kWh nationally. Because electricity rates are slightly low, a solar panel system results in less electric bill savings. However, these are state averages and may vary by the utility company.

North Carolina Solar 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 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 Solar Incentives in North Carolina

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 in North Carolina

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 in North Carolina, residential and commercial utility customers must submit interconnection paperwork to Duke Energy or the local electric company and receive permission.

Solar Property Tax Abatement in North Carolina

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.

Duke Energy Solar Rebate Program

The Duke Energy solar rebate program once incentivized customers to adopt solar energy by providing financial rebates for solar installations. Customers who installed solar panels received a rebate based on the system's capacity. Unfortunately, the program is no longer accepting applications, closing its doors to new participants.

Piedmont Solar Loan Program

The Piedmont Electric solar loan program provides members with a convenient and affordable way to finance their solar panel system. This initiative supports members in adopting sustainable and cost-effective solar solutions for their homes or businesses. Currently, it is offering solar loans of up to $15,000 for seven years with an interest rate of 5%.

Large Solar Panel Systems In North Carolina

There are numerous utility-scale solar farms in the state that generate considerable renewable power.

  • SunEnergy developed the 150.6 MW Albermarle Beach Solar project in Roper, operational since 2020, providing electricity for 17,988 homes.

  • Meta, Fifth Third Bank, and Starbucks have adopted solar in North Carolina. Meta's 119 MW Gutenberg project in Garysburg is a state leader.

  • BayWa r.e. completed the 134 MW Fern Solar in Battleboro in 2020, powering over 16,005 homes.

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.

Are there solar tax credits in North Carolina?

There are both state and federal incentives for solar power, and the solar tax credit is a federal solar incentive for both commercial and residential systems. The tax credit is equal to 30% of the cost of the solar power system, including the solar panels, inverter, racking system, and labor.

How many solar industry jobs are there in North Carolina?

There are more than 7,000 jobs in the solar industry in the state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In particular, the state is a leader in utility-scale solar energy installations.

How can I become a solar installer in North Carolina?

There are numerous ways to become a solar panel installer, including on-the-job training or taking solar installation classes. The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center offers courses in solar PV design and installation, solar storage, and operations and maintenance of solar systems. In addition, there are online solar training programs available through Solar Energy International and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

What areas of North Carolina have the most solar installations?

The distribution of solar systems in North Carolina can vary, but several regions are notable for high solar adoption. The Piedmont and Research Triangle areas, including cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, have seen significant growth in solar installations. Additionally, Charlotte and its surrounding areas have also experienced substantial solar development.

What regions of North Carolina are best for solar panels?

The western and central parts of the state tend to receive more sunlight, making them relatively sunnier than the eastern regions. Cities like Charlotte, Asheville, and Raleigh experience a good amount of sunlight throughout the year. However, sunlight patterns can vary, and factors such as local geography and weather conditions also play a role.

What companies install solar panels in North Carolina?

 Several solar companies operate in North Carolina, including:

  1. Strata Solar: Based in Chapel Hill, Strata Solar is a leading solar developer with a significant presence in North Carolina.

  2. Suntuity Solar: Suntuity Solar provides solar solutions for residential and commercial customers and has a presence in North Carolina.

  3. SunEnergy1: SunEnergy1 is a solar energy company with projects, including large-scale solar farms, in North Carolina.

  4. Renu Energy Solutions: Renu Energy Solutions focuses on residential and commercial solar installations in North Carolina.

Solar Energy Has Huge Potential In North Carolina

Similar to Florida, Texas, and Virginia, North Carolina has a strong solar energy market due to ample solar resources and North Carolina solar incentive programs. 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 solar permitting and engineering services in North Carolina and beyond! Complete the form below to learn more.


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