North Carolina is considered one of the leaders in the U.S. solar industry, ranking as the 3rd best state in the Solar National Ranking. This state has an installed solar capacity of 7,037.79 MW, being able to power up to 848,469 homes. Its solar capacity consists of 20,822 solar installations, including certified residential installations, utility-owned solar farms, and some large retailers that decided to go solar.
The solar industry has been rapidly growing in North Carolina over the past 5 years. This is due to a 45% reduction in prices for PV systems and the favorable solar incentives applied to solar system homeowners, which we will break down later on for you. In the next 5 years, North Carolina plans to increase its solar capacity by 46% to achieve a goal of an installed solar capacity of 10,279.87 MW.
All You Need To Know About Solar Energy in North Carolina
Citizens in North Carolina can receive their electricity from one of two groups of electric distribution companies (EDCs): the investor-owned electric utilities or the electric cooperatives. The area where you live will determine what company or co-op provides your electricity since EDCs in North Carolina are assigned by predefined territories.
North Carolina investor-owned electric utilities consist of Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, Dominion Energy, and more than 70 Municipal & University-owned systems. The practices and rates of all these EDCs are regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The investor-owned electric utilities in North Carolina provide electricity to around 4.6 million accounts.
The average residential electricity rate in North Carolina has a cost of 11.42 ¢ per kilowatt-hour consumed, meaning that electricity rates in this state are 8.16% cheaper than the national average. This rate puts North Carolina as the 32nd state in the National Ranking in this matter.
Even though electricity rates in North Carolina are lower in comparison to other states, citizens use more home heating and air conditioning, which is why they consume up to 19.27% more power than the US average. Due to the higher power consumption, North Carolina families tend to pay electricity bills that are 15.18% more expensive than the national average.
With higher energy needs and more expensive monthly bills than the national average, it is only natural for North Carolina homeowners to look for solar energy as the perfect solution. This energy allows citizens to supply their home power needs with 100% clean energy and at the same time, they help the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions.
Is it worth going solar in North Carolina?
With monthly bills more expensive than the national average, going solar is the best solution for homeowners in North Carolina, especially since this state has an excellent sun index.
Considering the climate and temperatures in North Carolina, families in the state have higher needs to use home heating and air conditioning to enjoy a comfortable life. Due to this higher energy needs, North Carolina homes consume an average of 1,079 kWh per month and up to 12,948 kilowatts-hour annually, positioning the state as the 37th state in the Energy Consumption Ranking.
Even though electricity rates in North Carolina are on average as cheap as 11.42 ¢/kWh, monthly electricity bills can be 15.18% more expensive than in other states. North Carolina homeowners pay average monthly bills of $123.22, which is 20% more expensive than what many citizens in California pay and even 62% more than citizens in Utah.
Paying high-cost electricity bills can highly impact the family finances. This is why the best financial strategy is to reduce high-cost monthly payments and enjoy a good quality of life by going solar.
A small-medium size solar PV system of 5 kW DC in North Carolina can generate up to 6,970 kilowatt-hours per year, which will supply 53% of the average power needs for an average home in the state. Considering the NREL database sun index levels in North California, the best size for a rooftop solar system in the state should be 9 kW DC, in order to offset close to 100% of the electricity bill.
The cost of a 9 kW DC PV system in North Carolina lies around $21,690 before solar incentives. After applying the federal incentive, the price of the PV system reduces to $16,077. North Carolina is popular by its state legislation that incentive residential homeowners to invest in the solar industry, which is why after applying local incentives the price of the PV system can be reduced even further.
After local solar incentives, the payback period for a PV system reduces from around 15 years down to 5 – 7 years. Moreover, installing a rooftop solar system that supplies 100% of your power needs, can save you an average of $36,966 after 25 years, which is 230% of the average cost for the 9 kW DC PV System.
If you want to enjoy all the financial benefits available for solar investors in North Carolina, the best time to go solar is now. The solar federal incentive which grants you a 26% reduction in the overall cost of your rooftop solar system, is being reduced to 22% by 2023 and will be set at 10% by 2026 and for future years. This is why you will have better benefits and discounts if you go solar by 2021 or 2022.
How much energy will your solar system generate?
The power generated by your PV system depends on many variables, being one of the main ones the solar radiation levels in your state, which is why you must consider it in your calculations. According to the NREL database, North Carolina receives solar radiation levels that go from 3.54 up to 6.85 kilowatt-hours per square meter a day, radiation levels may vary slightly from geographical locations and calendar months.
Solar radiation levels measured in North Carolina can be equivalent to saying that your rooftop solar system will enjoy a total of 3.7 – 4 hours of solar generation at full power and maximum efficiency. For a 9 kW DC PV system, this means that the annual average power generation oscillates between 12,394 –13,206 kWh AC.
Since homeowners in North Carolina have a yearly average power consumption of 12,948 kilowatt-hours, the 9 kW DC rooftop solar generation system is the perfect fit for their homes. A PV generation system like this one which supplies 100% of the power needs for a North Carolina family, will ensure them with yearly average savings of $1,478.
Payment options for your PV system in North Carolina
North Carolina allows for several payment options when you decide to go solar. Depending on the option you choose, you might be eligible for solar incentives and save tons of money on your solar system. To help you choose the best payment option for you, we will break down each of the choices that you can pick when buying your home PV system.
- Solar purchase/cash: Solar purchases with cash are simple and straightforward. This payment method allows you to pay for your PV system upfront and be fully eligible for all the federal and local solar incentives that North Carolina has, greatly reducing the overall cost of your solar system.
- Solar revolving loans: To ensure low-interest loans for your rooftop solar system, North Carolina signed the HB1389 legislation. These revolving loans allow you to finance your rooftop solar system with interest rates that do not exceed 8% and with loan terms that go as long as 20 years.
- Solar leasing: Since the HB589 signed in 2017, solar leasing is allowed in North Carolina, though there are few companies registered as lessors. This payment method allows you to enjoy solar energy without large upfront investments by installing a rooftop PV system and paying monthly bills to your solar lessor instead of consuming power directly from the grid. When choosing solar leasing, you are not eligible for federal or local solar incentives.
What are the solar incentives in North Carolina?
Part of the success that North Carolina enjoys in the solar industry is a direct result of the many federal and local incentives applied to residential homeowners that decide to go solar. As promised, we will now break down all of the federal and local solar incentives in North Carolina and explain them further to you.
Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC)
The Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most financially interesting solar incentives for U.S. taxpayers. By applying this incentive, you get a 26% dollar-for-dollar reduction from the overall price of your rooftop solar generation against federal income taxes. If the reduction is higher than your annual tax payment, you can just roll the remaining reduction from tax payment for the following years.
This solar incentive can be seen as simple as a 26% discount from the price of your PV system, which will be returned to you later on in the form of tax reductions. The ITC federal incentive is being reduced to 22% by 2023 and will be set at 10% for 2026 and the following years.
Duke Energy – NC Solar Rebate Program
If you get electricity provided by Duke Energy, you might just be on a lucky strike. This company offers a rebate of $0.60 per Watt installed in your rooftop solar generation system. The incentive is awarded only to the first 10 kW DC of your solar system, so you can get a maximum incentive of $6,000 even if your system is bigger than this size.
This incentive is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you want to apply for the Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate Program, you should do it as soon as possible. If applied to a 9 kW DC system that was already costing you $16,077 after ITC, you could get a $5,400 rebate and reduce the overall cost of the solar system down to $10,677.
Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems
Upgrades performed to a home increase the overall value of the property but at the same increase the property tax that the owner should pay for it. Thanks to the Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems, if you install a rooftop solar generation system at your home, the taxes increase by $0, meaning that you increase the overall value of your home without increasing the property taxes that you pay.
City of Asheville – Building Permit Fee Rebates
Thanks to the City of Asheville – Building Permit Fee Rebate, citizens in this city can get a $50 rebate from their building permit fee. Even if this is a small incentive, every penny counts when looking to reduce the overall cost for your rooftop solar generation system.
Loan program or Financing Program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
The Loan program is included among the best local incentives for homeowners in North Carolina. This local incentive allows you to finance the overall payment of your rooftop solar generation system with an interest rate that will not exceed 8% and a payment period that can go as long as 20 years.
NC Net Metering program (NEM)
The North Carolina Net Metering Program allows you to sell the excess energy generated by your PV system back to the grid and accumulate credits for the current metering year. These credits can be used in following monthly bills when you produce less energy than you consume, allowing you to offset part or all of the electrical bill even in those low production months.
This NEM program might work a little bit differently depending on your electrical utility company. With Duke Energy, the credits are reset every May 31st which is the end of the metering year. Clients of Dominion Energy do not lose the credits by end of the metering year, instead of that, they can carry the credits for the following metering period and use them in future bills.
Best Solar Companies in North Carolina: Our top choices
We believe that choosing the right company to go solar is important. You should always pick a solar company that provides you with all kinds of benefits, excellent discounts, properly installs your PV system, and provides you with the best quality solar products. To help you choose among the best solar companies, we compiled a list of our top picks. To choose each company, we used the following criteria.
- The reputation of the company – We analyzed client reviews and their level of satisfaction with the resulting installation.
- Solar projects – We considered the number of solar projects performed by the companies and the overall quality of the results.
- Products – We researched all of the products used by the companies to ensure they only use top-notch quality solar products.
- Partnership and certifications – We considered the certifications of every company and the manufacturer partnership.
- Warranty – To ensure quality and liability, we looked into the warranty of each company and their policies.
8MSolar is one of the best local installers in North Carolina and the highest rated in the town of Wake Forest. The company has performed all types of residential and commercial installations with satisfying results for customers.
This company provides solar installations, energy auditing, repairment & maintenance, solar community installations, and more. With this company, you can choose quality products from brands like SunPower Corporation, Enphase Energy, Canadian Solar Inc., Panasonic, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Schneider Electric, Q CELLS, and Solaria.
Blue Raven Solar is one of the best solar installers in North Carolina. The company has high-quality standards and thousands of certified installations all over different states with the best results.
This company provides all types of services including top-notch installations and outstanding electric contracting services. With Blue Raven Solar, you get to choose from a variety of products, the PV system designers will guide you towards choosing the best fit for your desired system with a 10-year warranty for the installation workmanship.
Sunpro Solar is a company with more than 12 years of experience and leading installers in several states, including North Carolina. This company has over 18,000 certified installations with quality results and a high level of client satisfaction.
Sunpro solar provides a wide range of services like solar installations, PV systems designing, energy auditing, electrical contracting, and energy optimization consulting. If you go solar with Sunpro Solar, you may choose from a variety of products from brands like Enphase Energy, LG Solar, Quick Mount PV, Tesla, and LONGi Solar
Palmetto Solar is an outstanding solar installer with more than 11 years of experience and a workforce that provides quality installations in several states including North Carolina. This solar installer has performed over 5000 solar projects all over 23 states with satisfying results for the customers.
With Palmetto Solar you may choose from a range of services including solar installations, electrical contracting, PV custom systems with energy auditing, and repair & maintenance of PV systems. This company always chooses the best quality products, which is why you might enjoy top-quality options from brands like Solar Edge and Q Cells when going solar with Palmetto.
Solar SME, Inc. is a solar company founded in 2014 with rapid growth and an excellent focus on customer service. The company is constantly looking to provide the best solar solution for customers according to their electrical needs and their available payment options to provide customized PV systems.
With Solar SME, Inc. you will be able to choose from a series of services like solar installations, electrical contracting, general contracting, solar community installations, and repair & maintenance of PV systems. Clients of Solar SME, Inc. can choose products from a series of top quality brands like Enphase Energy, SMA America, Canadian Solar Inc., Panasonic, LG Solar, and OutBack Power.
Emerald Energy LLC is a local solar contractor in the state of North Carolina with more than 12 years of experience and quality results for installed PV systems. The company stands out for its quality customer service and well-designed installations for all types of homes and buildings.
When going solar with Emerald Energy LLC, you can choose from a variety of services like PV systems installations, electrical contracting, and repair & maintenance of PV systems. This company provides outstanding quality products from brands like Enphase Energy, Canadian Solar Inc., Panasonic, LG Solar, SolarEdge Technologies, Trina Solar, Hyundai, Schneider Electric, Tesla, LG Chem.