With 6,152 MW (megawatts) of installed solar capacity, North Carolina is the second-largest solar market in the United States behind California as of 2019. This is up from having less than 1 MW installed capacity in 2007. The reason for the increase is solar is now highly-competitive in price compared to traditional sources of fuel like oil, gas, and coal.
Going solar is an excellent way to save money on your electricity bill, increase home value, and help save the environment by reducing your carbon footprint and using renewable, emissions-free energy. But, we know the cost-benefit analysis can be difficult to assess, so we’ve gathered everything you need to know into one article that’s specific for the North Carolina solar energy industry.
How Does Solar Power in North Carolina Work?
Let’s first take a look at how solar energy systems work:
- Solar Panels Convert Sunlight into DC Electricity. Solar panels are constructed with a variety of different conductive materials sandwiched between silicon layers to make solar cells, which are then grouped into a panel with a tempered glass face and an aluminum frame. Essentially, photons (particles of light) knock electrons free of atoms within the panels, which creates a flow of solar electricity.
- An Inverter Turns DC Power to AC Power. Your solar energy system will also include an inverter, which turns the direct current (DC) energy into alternating current (AC) energy, which is the standard electricity type used in homes and businesses to power your lights and appliances.
- Electricity From Your Solar Energy System Flows Through Your Breaker. The power your panels have produced then goes through your breaker to power everything in your home or business.
- Excess Power Goes Back to the Grid. North Carolina allows net metering, so your local utility company will install a special two-way electricity meter that keeps track of how much grid energy you use per month, or if your solar system produces more energy than you can use, you can ‘sell’ the excess back to the grid and be compensated in the form of credits on your later energy bills when your panels are not producing enough.
NC Solar Potential
‘Solar potential’ refers to how well solar panels will perform in a given location based on things like the average number of sunny days per year in your area, the amount of shading on your property, the number of sun hours per day, and so forth. Overall, North Carolina has excellent solar potential because of the generally mild climate and reliable sunshine year round.
In fact, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that North Carolina has the solar potential to produce enough energy to cover the current state consumption rate, thirty times over! There are more than a million rooftops in the state that could host solar panels and contribute to this green energy movement.
North Carolina Solar Program
North Carolina solar program has some of the best solar policies and incentives in the United States, which translates to excellent deals for you as a clean energy consumer. Let’s take a look at some of the specific incentives you can take advantage of if you choose to go solar.
Duke Energy Solar Rebates
Duke Energy offers rebates for new residential solar installations at a rate of 60 cents per watt for systems up to 10 kW, which would translate to a maximum rebate of $6,000. They also offer rebates for non-residential customers at 50 cents per watt with a cap of $50,000, and for non-profit customers at 75 cents per watt with a cap of $75,000.
Federal Investment Tax Credit
This tax credit from the federal government allows residential and commercial customers to deduct 22% of the total cost of your solar energy system from your federal tax liability amount for the year, with the potential to roll over unused credit to the following year if the credit amount exceeds your liability amount.
As we briefly mentioned above, net metering allows you to accumulate credits from your utility company if your solar energy system produces more electricity than you use, and you can then use those credits during months when your solar energy system does not produce enough to cover all of your energy needs.
Building Permits Rebates
If you live in Asheville, you can get a $50 rebate on your building permit, which is required to install a solar energy system on either a residential or commercial property.
State Property Tax Exemption
Adding a solar energy system to a home can increase its overall value, which normally would increase your property taxes. But, North Carolina has an exemption for the added home value from solar energy, so you won’t pay higher property taxes after installing your system.
Revolving Loan Options
North Carolina also has legislation that limits solar loan terms to no more than 20 years and interest rates are capped at 8%, and they are easily renewable.
Cost of Solar Panels In North Carolina
The average cost of installing solar panels in North Carolina starts around 15,000 depending on energy usage and consumption needs. The average return for installing a solar system is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a couple of decades.
There are also many incentives that you can take advantage of affordable loan options available as well. Plus, once your solar energy system is paid off, you will enjoy free or very low-cost energy for the remainder of your solar panels’ lifespan, which can be around 25 years for a quality system.
Is Solar Worth It In North Carolina?
In general, yes. While it depends on your current energy costs, property location and orientation, shade level, and many other factors, North Carolina overall has excellent solar potential and some of the most favorable laws and incentives surrounding solar energy systems in the country.
Contact Your Local North Carolina Solar Installers
To learn more about installing a solar energy system at your North Carolina home or business, contact your local solar installation professionals today!