Beat the Oct 1 Deadline & Save Up to $5,000!
The rules are changing on October 1st for solar customers in North Carolina. Net-metering is one of the primary policies that will be affected. Net metering is a policy that controls how you are credited for the solar energy you produce.
With Duke’s current net metering policy, the utility stores your electricity ‘credits’ at an equal rate so you get the full retail value of solar electricity that your system produces. That means if you pay 10 cents a watt, you receive 10 cents a watt for the extra electricity you might produce from your solar system. All new solar customers after 10/1/23 will receive the lower “avoided cost rate” for any excess power they send to the grid. That means you still pay the 10 cents a watt, for example, BUT Duke will credit you only a bit over 3 cents a watt for the extra electricity you produce. For existing solar customers (aka “legacy customers”), net-metering with full value on every watt produced continues until 2027, savings you a nice amount of money for 3+ years!
By getting started on your solar system by October 1st 2023, you will be locked in to these full net metering benefits through 2026 as a “legacy customer”. This does not mean that you need to have your solar system installed by 10/1/23, just that you will need your paperwork started with Duke Energy before then. (Sundance Power Systems has an in-house expert who handles all of this, another important difference between us and many other solar companies.)
What Is a “Legacy Customer”?
Legacy customers (existing solar customers and those getting started by 10/1/23) get to hold on to current net-metering for another 3-plus years and earn a higher ‘credit’ for every watt they produce with their solar system. Additionally, they get to choose how they wish to proceed with Duke starting in 2027. This involves the new “bridge rate” that allows some choice when things change in 2027 when every customer will be under the new policies.
The New Bridge Rate
The new “bridge rate” allows legacy customers to maintain some benefits of current solar policy for up to 15 years from their initial interconnection date. Here is some quick background on this: In March 2023, seventeen NC rooftop installers, including Sundance Power Systems, signed a letter to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper stating that the proposed changes by Duke Energy would reduce the value of a solar customer’s investment by 25-35%. The presidents of three of those companies delved deep into negotiations with Duke in an attempt to create a less onerous set of changes than those proposed. Choosing this collaborative approach versus litigation has created a transition period through a new ‘Bridge Rate’. This will allow the original changes to take place but in a phased manner, allowing a smoother transition for future rooftop solar customers. Stew Miller of YES Solar, Dave Hollister of Sundance Power Systems, and Bob Kingery of Southern Energy Management (SEM) are the three solar company owners who lead the way on these crucial negotiations. “In the end, we did the best we could to secure the best deal possible for our industry, one that would give us a runway that was sellable to our customers, and buy some time for some systemic changes to occur that could create a better system moving forward.” said Hollister of Sundance.
How Does the Bridge Rate Benefit Solar Customers in NC?
Under the bridge rate, you are not required to be on a Time-of-Use (TOU) schedule – there is the option to stay on a residential rate schedule. TOU scheduling means that Duke will be charging more for electricity used during certain peak times, such as mornings before work/school and evenings after work/school. This offers some flexibility in choosing the best plan for you based on the design of your solar system and your household power consumption.
Grid Access Fee
A grid access fee is charged to any customer that owns a system that is 15 kilowatts (kW) or larger. The grid access fee for Duke Energy Carolinas is $2.05 per kW, and for Duke Energy Progress, it’s $1.50 per kW.
Most residential solar systems are smaller than 15 kW, so many homeowners won’t have to worry about the additional charge. Legacy customers on the Bridge Rate schedule are not subject to the grid access fee, another benefit of going solar before 10/1/23.
Time of use rates and potential future incentives for adding batteries to your system could make installing a solar battery a good investment, too. Battery storage systems allow homeowners to store their off-peak solar electricity and use it during on-peak hours. This allows you to offset the higher TOU prices with power that you produced through your solar system.
Yes, it is complicated – but Sundance knows the answers!
If all of this seems a bit complicated, then you are not alone! We here at Sundance have seen a few sources get this wrong, either in the details or simply understanding the whole thing. We have been engaged with these changes for months now and being involved with the actual negotiations with Duke Energy has given us some front row insight. The best recommendation we can offer is to get in touch with us as soon as possible to see what these changes will mean for you. Our design team is already adept at customizing solar systems to meet our customers’ needs. Knowing how these policy changes work is key to ensuring maximum benefits for you over the coming years. With the Legacy Customer Sales, we are taking 5% off your total system price up to a $100,000. This alone saves you up to $5,000 while also granting you the benefits of legacy customer status.!