For a state with some of the lowest retail electricity prices in the country, North Carolina is at the head of the pack with solar energy policy. Clean energy is the state’s largest industry, creating $7 billion in revenue. In addition, more than 6,000 of the state’s jobs are in the solar industry. Solar panel manufacturing and purchasing continue to grow in North Carolina.

North Carolina’s Solar
Report Card

Grade
Methodology

To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:

We determined a rank from 1 to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.

Incentives & Rebates, 40%

Electricity Rate, 15%

Renewable Energy Policy, 30%

Interconnection Ease, 5%

Photovoltaic Potential, 10%

What’s the Cost? Electricity in North Carolina

Even with the low cost of electricity — under $0.10/kWh across all sectors — North Carolina’s solar energy initiatives are proving successful. North Carolina’s electricity rates have hovered between $0.07/kWh and $0.08/kWh since 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The majority of the state’s electricity comes from coal, non-ethanol gasoline and natural gas.

Cost of Residential Electricity

Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015

North Carolina Library
of Solar Resources

Policies & Incentives

For a state that had almost no large-scale solar energy a decade ago, it now ranks first in the South for solar energy capacity according to a Duke University energy report. In addition to being the first state to adopt a Renewable Energy and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) in the Southeast, it has had has more than 100 financial incentives and regulatory policies in effect. Electricity sales stemming from solar energy must reach 0.2 percent by 2018 for investor-owned utilities.

REBATES/INCENTIVES

Financing Program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency:

North Carolina authorizes counties and cities to establish loan programs for financing solar PV projects on residential or commercial property. For the loan terms, the loan interest rates cannot surpass 8 percent, and the term cannot go past 20 years.

Green Building Incentives:

All cities and counties can provide partial rebates or reductions for fees for building permits if the buildings meet LEED guidelines. These include buildings featuring solar PV systems.

None for residential specifically

None for residential specifically

POLICIES

Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance:

The template ordinance guides communities regarding the regulation of the development of solar power systems. Level 1 solar PV systems are permitted use; Level 2 systems have to meet Solar Energy Systems development standards spelled out in the ordinance; and Level 3 systems cannot be used without a conditional use or special use permit.

Net Metering:

North Carolina investor-owned utility customers who operate and own solar PV systems are eligible to take advantage of net metering under any rate schedule available. The system capacity limit is 1 MW. Any excess energy generated is simply credited to the next bill of a customer.

Interconnection Standards:

For connecting a solar PV system to a utility company electricity grid, three approaches are used in North Carolina. Systems that are 20 kW or smaller use the Inverter Process, while larger systems use the Fast Track Process or Study Process. Fees apply for interconnection. Utilities might not require homeowners to carry additional liability insurance beyond that which is required by standard homeowner policies.

Solar Rights:

North Carolina cannot adopt an ordinance that prohibits the installation of solar PV systems. However, ordinances can ban the installation of systems that are visible from the ground and that are on the front of structures that face public-access areas, among other restrictions.

None for commercial specifically

TAX CREDITS

None

None for residential specifically

None for commercial specifically

TAX EXEMPTIONS

Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems:

North Carolina law exempts 80 percent of a business solar PV system’s appraised value from property tax. For residential systems, the amount exempted is 100 percent.

None for residential specifically

None for commercial specifically

Solar Panel Contractors & Installers in N.C.

There are more than 450 solar industry companies in North Carolina. Although the large number of options may make it challenging to choose a solar installer, North Carolinians can narrow down the field by researching companies. It’s important to find out about each contractor’s experience in the field, and it’s helpful to ask about the size and scope of prior installations and how long the companies have been in the solar energy business.

Here is a list of North Carolina solar energy companies to help you get started.

Energy Wise Solutions

Energy Wise Solutions installs solar electric and solar thermal systems for residential and commercial applications.

Where it operatesCharlotte

Year of opening2006

Lawrence Electric Inc.

Lawrence Electric includes free on-site evaluations with their solar power installations.

Where it operatesSalisbury

Year of opening2002

Renewable Energy Contractors, LLC

Renewable Energy Contractors provides renewable energy consulting for businesses and homeowners and installs solar PV, solar thermal and wind energy systems.

Where it operatesBlowing Rock

Year of opening1999

Solar Dynamics NC

Custom design and installation of solar electric and solar hot water systems is Solar Dynamics’ specialty.

Where it operatesAsheville

Year of opening2002

SolarHOT

As their name implies, SolarHOT manufactures and installs solar hot water systems for residences and commercial businesses.

Where it operatesRaleigh

Year of opening2005

Southern Energy Management

Southern Energy Management designs and installs rooftop solar energy systems.

Where it operatesMorrisville

Year of opening2001

Sun Dollar Energy, LLC

Sun Dollar provides and installs solar panels, solar shingles and inverters for North Carolina homes.

Where it operatesRaleigh; serves Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, and the Greater Triangle Area

Year of opening2011

Sugar Hollow Solar

Sugar Hollow Solar offers solar panel design and installation services to businesses, residences and government offices.

Where it operatesAsheville; serves western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina

Year of opening2010

SunQest Inc.

SunQest not only manufactures solar energy systems, they also provide solar panel testing and repair services to customers.

Where it operatesNewton

Year of opening1988

Sustainable Contractors

Installation of residential solar shingles and solar panels is Sustainable Contractors’ specialty.

Where it operatesCharlotte

Year of opening2006

Other N.C. Solar Resources

These resources will help you investigate solar energy in North Carolina.

DSIRE Incentives Database – North Carolina

Explore North Carolina solar energy incentives by category and policy or initiative type.

North Carolina General Assembly

Learn about pending solar energy legislation and find contact information for local assembly members.

North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association

Access the NC Clean Energy Census, annual reports, and legislative decisions regarding solar energy

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

Explore residential and commercial incentive programs and download a solar ordinance template for companies and landowners.

U.S. Energy Information Administration – North Carolina State Profile

Find North Carolina energy statistics from the U.S. government as well as data and analysis of energy consumption.