Solar

What are the benefits of enrolling in a Clean Energy for Us campaign?
The benefits of enrolling include:

  • -Discounted solar pricing
  • -Local subsidies (in select counties)
  • -A free solar site assessment
  • -An energy efficiency audit
  • -Vetted contractors and equipment
  • -Education on the technology, tax credits, rebates, financing, and everything else you need to know!

What is solar photovoltaic (PV)?
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) converts sunlight directly into electricity to offset your building’s electric consumption. Systems can be installed on a roof or on the ground. Systems may be “off-grid,” but are most commonly interconnected (grid-tied) without batteries.
What are the benefits of solar?

  • -Solar power reduces your monthly electricity bill and saves you money after the system has been paid back by energy savings.
  • -Solar hedges against rate hikes. By purchasing your power upfront, solar owners are not impacted by increases in the cost of electricity from their utility.
  • -Use of solar reduces pollution as well as your carbon footprint.
  • -Solar reduces your dependence on fracking, mountain-top removal, and foreign energy supplies.
  • -Solar promotes energy resiliency and protects against power outages.
  • -Going solar creates jobs and stimulates economic development.

What makes a good solar candidate?

  • -You have a viable solar site.
  • -You have federal & state tax liability, which allows you to take advantage of the tax credits.
  • -You spend at least $60-$80 per month on electricity.
  • -You have capital or the ability to finance a solar system.

If you heat your water with an old, inefficient water heater (oil or electric) or have large, consistent hot water demand then you qualify as a candidate for solar thermal, which is a technology that uses the sun’s energy to heat water or power solar cooling systems.

What makes a good solar site?

  • -Southern exposure
  • -Ability to angle panels 30-45 degrees
  • -4-6 hours of direct sunlight
  • -Open roof area, about 100 sq. ft. per 1 kW
  • -Roof in good repair

What is net metering?

Net metering allows customers to export power to the grid during times of excess generation and receive credits that they can apply to later electricity usage. The utility charges customers only for the “net” power that they consume.  No batteries needed.

Does Duke Energy pay a cash rebate for installing solar?

If you are a Duke Energy Progress customer and a homeowner, you may qualify for a cash rebate through Duke Energys SunSense Program.  Currently, this program offers $250 for every 1kW that is installed. Our solar partners will advice on this issue after they complete your on-site solar assessment. 

What is the federal personal income tax credit?

“A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer.” Click this link for the nitty-gritty. In the meantime, here’s a summary:

  • -Federal personal income tax credit = 30%
  • -No cap on PV or thermal systems
  • -Excess credit may be carried over to the next tax year
  • -Credit is reported on Form 5695
  • -This tax credit expires on 12/31/2016 and will likely be reduced to 10%.

What is the NC personal renewable energy tax credit?

“North Carolina offers a tax credit equal to 35% of the cost of eligible renewable energy property constructed, purchased or leased by a taxpayer and placed into service in North Carolina during the taxable year.” Click this link for the nitty-gritty. In the meantime, here’s a summary:

  • NC Personal Renewable Energy Tax Credit = 35%
  • -Allowable credit may not exceed 50% of a taxpayer’s state tax liability for the year
  • -Unused amount may be carried forward up to 5 years
  • -Credit reported on Forms D400 TC, 478, 478G
  • -Credit expires on 12/31/2015*
  • -Caps:
    • $1,400 for solar thermal providing domestic hot water
    • $3,500 for solar thermal providing domestic hot water AND heat supplementation
    • $10,500 for solar PV
    • Unused amount may be carried forward up to 5 years
  • *Contact your NC state representative and senator to request that they renew this important incentive.

How does financing work?
Financing, coupled with state and federal tax credits can make solar or energy efficiency an attractive and affordable investment. A number of options exist for financing a solar system, and homeowners may use these options to finance energy efficiency projects as well. These options include a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a loan through local financer, Self-Help Credit Union, or a loan through Admirals Bank.
How do I qualify for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?
A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELC) is the most common means of financing solar or energy efficiency projects and can take place through almost any lending institution.

Eligibility:

  • -Must have equity in your home
  • -Minimum credit score

Benefits:

  • -Low interest rate (typically between 2.75% 4.75%)
  • -No origination fees, closing costs, or penalties

How does a loan through Admirals Bank work?
Admirals Bank loan products may be used for solar or energy efficiency. For a residential solar system, you may re-amortize your loan within the first 24 months of receiving any tax credits. No appraisal required. Drawbacks:

  • -Higher interest rates (4.95% 11.99%)
  • -Minimum credit score of 650
  • -Possible fees for origination, recording, title search, inspection fee, notary closing

Are there financial incentives available for commercial solar projects?
 Yes, businesses can recover up to 90% of their investment in solar through the following incentives:

  1. Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) the federal government provides a tax credit worth 30% of the full installed cost of the renewable energy purchase. There is no maximum limit to this credit. If the credit is not used entirely in the year the equipment is placed into service, then the remaining credit may be carried back one year or forward 20 years.
  2. North Carolina Renewable Energy Tax Credit- NC offers a tax credit of 35% of the cost of a solar system that is constructed, purchased, and placed into service in NC by a taxpayer during the taxable year. Under North Carolinas tax code, the allowable credit may not exceed 50% of a taxpayers liability for the year, reduced by the sum of all other credits.
  3. Federal Accelerated Depreciation- Under the federal Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), businesses can recover investments in solar through depreciation deductions. MACRS establishes a set of class lives for various types of property, ranging from three to 50 years, over which property may be depreciated. For solar, the current MACRS property class life is five years.
  4. NC Property tax exemption NC provides for a property tax exemption for solar. This means that the additional value of your solar system is excluded in the appraisal for property tax purposes. NC also provides a property tax abatement for solar PV systems. The abatement exempts 80% of the appraised value of a PV system from property tax.

How can a non-profit finance a solar project?

  1. Purchase directly
  2. Finance with a commercial solar loan product
  3. Use a tax equity investor model*
  4. Receive donations**

*Investors form a business structure through which they purchase a solar system and install it on the nonprofit organization. Investors generate a return on their investment over five years and donate the system to the nonprofit in year six.

**Taxpayers who donate to a non-profit solar project may write off the donation and claim a NC tax credit proportional to the project costs donated (Senate Bill 3, 2007).

How does purchasing solar lead to rate control & predictability?
Electricity rates will continue to increase and solar hedges against that for people who invest today. In fact, this is one of the motivating factors for people joining our program. Over the past 20 years Duke Energy Carolinas has increased residential electricity rates by 44% and most recently increased residential electricity rates by:

  • –7.2% in 2012 (Duke Energy Carolinas NC customers)
  • 7.5% over 2 years in 2013 (Duke Energy Progress customers in NC)
  • 0.1% 2.8% in 2014 (Duke Energy Progress customers in SC)

Duke Energy Progress is currently petitioning to raise residential surcharge from 20 cents to 80 cents and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects U.S. residential electricity prices to increase by another 3.1% this year and 2.4% next year. Solar protects against this volatility.

How does solar reduce coal pollution in NC?
In 2013, 44% of NC’s in-state electricity generation came from coal shipped by rail and truck from West Virginia and Kentucky. In 2012, Duke Energy spent $1.7 billion out of the state to purchase coal. NC has 14 coal-fired power plants and 50 coal ash impoundments. We rank #9 in the country for coal ash generation. NC’s regulations are severely deficient for this waste. When you go solar you are reducing your reliance on and consumption of coal and other fossil fuels.
What happens if I need to repair my roof after going solar?
If you need to repair your roof after installing solar, you can leave the mounts in place, remove the panels, and re-shingle.
How much maintenance do solar panels require?
Solar panels in NC rarely require maintenance.

 

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