Press Release | March 30, 2022
RALEIGH, N.C. This week, in CommentsThe NC Utilities Commission listened to clean energy advocates, including the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), Solar Energy Industries Association(SEIA) and the Southern Environmental Law Center, (SELC) on behalf Vote Solar & the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Solar Choice Net Metering proposalOriginal filing November 29, 2002Th. If the proposal is approved, it would combine with a pending Smart $aver Solar incentivie by the NC Utilities Commission to offer future net-metering customers significant upfront savings when adopting solar energy. The Solar Choice Net Metering proposal contains a direct rebate and new solar pricing signals that will reduce utility bills for all North Carolina customers. It also preserves electricity bill savings for existing net metering customers.
This agreement was reached as part proactive negotiations prompted in part by North Carolina General Assembly directives to Commission to revise net-metering rates. North Carolina must review the current net metering system before 2027, as required by HB589 or HB951 that were passed by the NC legislature. Advocates sought to find a common path forward that would benefit solar customers and the grid in North Carolina. They also wanted to avoid any battles over harmful proposals that rooftop customers in other states, such as Arizona, Nevada, California, and more recently Florida, faced. While there has been concern about the changes that this agreement will bring to the industry’s business, it also mitigates many of those worst-case scenarios in the aforementioned states. These can have devastating effects on rooftop solar communities.
This agreement was reached by clean energy advocates who wanted to ensure the continued strong growth of clean solar energy in North Carolina, the sustainability and employment of the industry, and provide predictability and stability to existing and future net-metering customers. Although negotiations were ongoing for several years about solar policies in North Carolina as well as South Carolina, there was an urgency to reach an agreement. The current rebate program in North Carolina will expire in 2022. It is important to engage with the utility early enough to avoid the 2027 deadline to ensure that solar customers have a clear path to financial savings and a good return on their investment. This agreement opens up the possibility of additional clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles or energy storage. It also reduces dependence on polluting fossil fuel-powered peaker plants during high demand periods.
“The new solar pricing signals combined with incentives save money for all North Carolina ratepayers, reduce electricity demand on the grid when it matters most, and encourage greater adoption of electric vehicles and battery storage,” according to Lauren Bowen, senior attorney and regional solar initiative leader at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “All elements of the proposal should be considered together, keeping in mind the states pending Carbon Plan and with the aim to build on this initial framework in the near future to keep North Carolina a leader in clean solar energy. Crucial to our future are incorporating programs to increase solar access and further encourage solar paired with storage to lower heat-trapping carbon pollution.”
Although this change may seem difficult for NCSEA and its partners in the short-term it will allow for the long-term growth and sustainability of rooftop solar in North Carolina. According to Peter Ledford (General Counsel and Director of Policy at NC Sustainable Energy Association), This agreement also encourages electrification, including high efficiency heat pumps, electric cars, and residential storage, to help us reach our carbon reduction goals. We don’t take these agreements lightly and believe that Solar Choice Net Metering will be the best choice to achieve a clean, affordable energy future for everyone.
Price signals are important. Bryan Jacob, Solar Program director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said that net metering in Carolinas supports a method that accurately values the amount of solar energy customers contribute to the grid. This program encourages customers to shift energy use to reduce peak demand, and to prevent the need to produce new fossil-powered power that could worsen the climate crisis. This reduces overall grid costs, and all customers, solar or not, save money.
“Vote Solar is dedicated to expanding access to affordable, reliable solar energy for all North Carolinians. We have been a part of the fight for fair net-metering policies across the country as a national organization. We believe this deal could set the initial stage for more programs aimed at increasing solar access while also helping the state reach its carbon reduction goals,” says Lindsey Hallock, Southeast Senior Regional Director at Vote Solar. “We acknowledge that not everyone has signed onto the settlement in support of the proposal and we look forward to constructive dialogue including through the upcoming North Carolina carbon planning process to make an equitable clean energy future that works for everyone.”
“Thousands of North Carolinians are taking control of their energy usage by going solar, and SEIA is committed to expanding rooftop solar programs in ways that create additional value streams for customers looking to reduce their electric bills,says Will Giese, Southeast Regional Director at Solar Energy Industries Association. SEIA will continue advocating for innovative solutions to spread the cost-savings of solar to every community, just as we have done across the country. This proposal is a significant first step in a collaborative effort for a prosperous clean-energy future in North Carolina.
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) is the leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that drives public policy and market development for clean energy. NCSEA’s work enables clean energy jobs, economic opportunities, and affordable energy options for all North Carolinians. Learn more about NCSEA and its vision at www.energync.org
About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (501(c)(3)) is a non-profit organization that promotes responsible energy choices to ensure safe, healthy, and clean communities throughout the Southeast. SACE has been addressing energy issues since 1985 and promoting equitable outcomes that help our region’s communities harness the economic and environmental benefits of clean, renewable energy. www.cleanenergy.org
About Vote Solar
Vote Solars mission it to make solar energy mainstream in the U.S. Vote Solar has been working since 2002 to lower solar costs and increase solar access. Vote Solar is a 501(c),3 non-profit organization. It advocates for state policies and programs to repower the electric grid with clean energy. Vote solar works to remove regulatory hurdles and implement key policies that will bring solar to scale. www.VoteSolar.org
About the Solar Energy Industries Association
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which is leading the transition to a clean energy economy by creating the conditions for solar to reach 30% of U.S. electricity generation in 2030, is the leader. SEIA works together with its 1,000 members and other strategic partners to fight policies that create jobs in all communities and shape fair market rules that encourage competition and the growth reliable, low-cost solar energy. SEIA, a national trade association for solar and solar + storage, was established in 1974. Through research, education, advocacy, and advocacy, it has built a comprehensive vision of the Solar+ Decade. www.seia.org