Sunny North Carolina has been leading the southeast regional solar power initiative for years. Favorable laws, rebates and performance payments make going solar in North Carolina a wise economic decision. Keep in mind that the Federal Government currently offers a 30% tax credit for the whole installed cost of your system. That's a huge benefit available to you no matter where you live in the US!
North Carolina's major utilities have met their RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards) which were mandated in 2007. This is a regulation that requires utilities to increase their production of energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal by a certain date. Utilities must meet the standards by either producing their own renewable energy or by purchasing it from customers. They must pay high fees if the standards are not met. Rather than paying high fees, utilities in strong RPS state offer solar incentives to homeowners. North Carolina's Renewable Portfolio Standard (passed in 2007 and now fulfilled) mandated utilities to produce 2% of their aggregate capacity from renewable energy by 2021.
Solar carve outs require a certain percentage of the Renewable Portfolio Standards to be met with solar energy. North Carolina's carve out of .02% for solar power has been met.
North Carolina's electric rates rank 37th out of fifty states. A state's electric rates are one of the key factors in predicting whether an investment in solar panels makes sense. The reason for this is simple: solar power is in direct contention with electric rates. Low electric rates make it hard for you to achieve significant payback from your solar power investment. Higher electric rates make an investment in solar energy much more feasible. North Carolina's lower electric rates make investing in solar power less attractive.
North Carolina offers net metering. Net metering is a system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred into the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility. When you generate electricity from your solar array for your home or business, it reduces the amount of energy you purchase from your electric utility. it also lowers your monthly electricity bills. If your system produces more energy than you need, the excess power is sold back to the grid. That amount of energy is deducted from your monthly bill or credited toward a future bill. Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Dominion North Carolina Power are all required to offer net metering to their customers.
Interconnection standards are requirements for connecting solar and other electrical generation systems to the grid. These rules apply to both electricity customers and utilities. North Carolina has statewide interconnection standards which makes the interconnection process in North Carolina less complex and expensive. Small solar power installations are eligible for fast track status. This can be a definite benefit when trying to bring a solar energy system online and makes it easier for a solar power system to make financial sense.
Solar power rebates are incentives federal or state governments offer to reduce the cost of going solar. You can get a lump sum payment or your installer will take the amount off the final installed price. Rebates require paperwork to be filed. Many times installers will handle the paperwork. Duke Energy Progress offers a rebate of $250/kW on the installation of your solar power system. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) customers are eligible for a $1,000 payment after their system is installed under the Tennessee Valley Authority Green Power Providers program. Combine that with the 30% Federal rebate and South Carolina's 25% tax credit (see below) and you have a slam dunk for South Carolina residents!
North Carolina no longer offers state solar tax credits. As a credit, you take the amount directly off your tax payment, rather than as a deduction from your taxable income. You can claim the credit for your primary residence, vacation home, and for either an existing structure or new construction.
North Carolina offers Solar Power Performance Payments, also know as production incentives (the state ranks 20th in the nation). Solar Power Performance Payments provide small cash payments based on the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) or BTUs generated by a renewable energy system. Payments based on a system's actual performance are much more effective than payments based on a system's rated capacity. Electricity produced is credited as Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). SRECs are a great way to help your Solar PV system pay for itself.
North Carolina offers property tax exemptions for installed solar systems. Property tax exemptions allow businesses and homeowners to exclude the added value of a system from the valuation of their property for taxation purposes. An exemption makes it more economically feasible for taxpayer to install a solar system on a residential or commercial property. North Carolina offers an 80% tax exemption -- 80% of the amount your home increases in value is exempt from property tax.
North Carolina doesn't offer sales tax exemptions. A sales tax exemption means that homeowners and businesses would not have to pay any state sales tax on their solar panel system.
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