When asked which states are leaders in solar energy, most people think of Arizona, New Mexico, California, and other sunny southwestern states. But North Carolina has long been a leader in the solar industry. In fact, the state is not far behind California in terms of installed solar capacity. North Carolina gets just five percent of its electricity from solar energy, but that’s more than three times the national average.
North Carolina’s leadership in solar energy production is due to several factors that have made it easier and cheaper than ever to go solar. Prices have plunged by 34 percent over the last five years, and the state offers a suite of attractive financial incentives to convince homeowners and businesses to adopt solar energy. If you are a North Carolina resident looking to learn more about ways to save on solar energy systems in the Tar Heel State, look no further.
Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina
North Carolina offers residents plenty of ways to save on their solar purchase. Installers, along with local and federal bodies, offer numerous rebates and tax credits to help ease residents’ switch to solar. In addition, the equipment has become more advanced and efficient over the years, so solar panel costs have dropped considerably.
The exact cost of a solar panel system for your North Carolina property depends on factors such as your county of residence, the size of your system, the installation company you have chosen, and the equipment used. According to recent data, a 5 kilowatt (kW) solar installation in North Carolina averages between $12,112 and $16,388 in cost, with an average gross price of $14,250.
If these numbers look overwhelming, the good news is that North Carolina is a leader in solar energy, so there are plenty of opportunities to save in 2019. Read on to find out more!
Solar Incentives in North Carolina
To help offset the cost of a solar power investment, North Carolina provides plenty of opportunities to save on your purchase, with a variety of incentives, tax breaks, and rebates.
North Carolina’s leadership in solar energy production is greatly due to its affortabilty in comparison with other states. There are financial incentives to help make it easy and affordable for NC residents to go solar. Some of the generous incentives are the rebate programs developed and operated by the in-state electric utilities. For a limited time, the federal government is offering a significant federal solar tax credit, which will help you save even more money towards your system. Several incentives are available this year to help you out, so read on to find out more!
NC Solar Rebate
One of the biggest hurdles to going solar is the price. Average-sized systems cost around $20,000. North Carolina’s state government has offset this cost by offering a rebate of $6,000 to homeowners who generate at least 10 kilowatts of electricity. Unfortunately, the program can’t keep up with demand. Only a limited number of rebate applications are available annually, and in 2018, all the available applications were filed in two weeks. And this year, they were all claimed after just two days.
Some North Carolina homeowners could also cash in on a net metering policy. Net metering allows homeowners to push their excess solar energy back into the grid. The local electric utility then pays homeowners for this excess energy at a predetermined rate. While net metering isn’t yet available statewide, net metering is a great arrangement because it ensures that as long as the sun is shining, your solar system is hard at work and saving you money.
NC GreenPower Program
North Carolina also partners with the Tennessee Valley Authority to offer a generation credit system, the Green Power Providers. Homeowners with systems between 500 watts and 10 kilowatts will receive 9 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generation. Homeowners with systems larger than 10 kilowatts will receive 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of generation. The contract period lasts 20 years and, like the solar rebates mentioned above, is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
NC Property Tax Exemption
Finally, North Carolina offers a generous property tax incentive for solar energy systems that allows an exemption of 80 percent of the appraised value of a solar system from your property taxes. And some systems, so long as they are not being used to generate income or provide electricity to a business, might be entirely exempt from property taxes. To find out if your system might be fully exempt from property taxes, contact your local property assessor’s office.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
In addition to the numerous state incentives described above, North Carolinians can also take advantage of the federal investment tax credit (ITC). The solar investment tax credit is a federal program that allows anyone paying federal income tax to reduce their income tax liability by 30 percent of the cost of their solar system. The ITC applies not only to the cost of your solar panels, but also to contractor and installation costs, wiring, inverters, racking, and other balance-of-system equipment. That means that if your system costs $10,000, you could take advantage of the ITC to get a $3,000 credit on your taxes.
The solar tax credit will decline to just 22 percent after 2022. After 2023, the ITC will phase out completely.
Thanks to a strong selection of incentives and a competitive solar market, making the transition to solar energy in North Carolina is becoming more affordable than ever. The Tar Heel State grew its solar production by 36% in 2020, far surpassing many other leading states in its growth. North Carolina has invested over $7.97 billion invested in solar energy and is expected to add an additional 4,000 megawatts in the next five years.
The incentives listed here have helped going solar in North Carolina even easier. This is an ideal time to make the switch to clean solar energy. If you have more questions about the costs and opportunities associated with going solar in 2021, contact your local installer to find out whether your home is a good candidate for solar panels.