NC Solar Incentives to Take Advantage of in 2022

Rooftop view of a roof mounted solar system with a sunset in the background

Topics in This Article

North Carolina Solar Discounts

Tis’ the season for change! It’s a new year and a great time to take control of your power. Whether you’re tired of paying high electric bills and watching utility rates increase, or you’re ready to switch to clean power, now’s the perfect time to look into your energy independence.

There are a number of powerful financial incentives available to North Carolina residential, commercial, and nonprofit solar projects in 2022. Just like those new year gym membership deals, not all of these incentives will be here to stay. Here’s a rundown of national and local North Carolina solar incentives you may be eligible to tap into this year.

Upfront Tax Disclaimer
We are not tax professionals (surprise!) and this post does not constitute professional tax advice or guidance. If you end up going on your solar journey with us, we can connect you with Lucas Tax and Energy, a CPA specializing in energy related tax issues, that we keep on retainer as a service to our customers.

Free Solar Power 101 Guide

This comprehensive PDF guide covers everything you need to know about home solar power basics!
PDF Guide

Residential Solar Incentives

New and existing NC homes that install solar in 2022 may be eligible to take advantage of two key residential solar incentives — the 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and the Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate.

When these discounts are applied to our average sized home solar system (around 8.5kW), you can expect to see roughly $10,060 off of our average turn-key price of $27,000. However, there are several requirements and caveats with each incentive to be aware of.

30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for Homes

The 30% Federal Solar ITC was established in 2005 by the Energy Policy Act. At first it was intended to last one year, but after several sunny extensions we’re excited to report this incentive will be here to stay at 30% until 2032. You can learn more about the history of the tax credit and the most recent extension from the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act here.

How Does the Solar Tax Credit Work? 

Beginning Jan. 1 2022, homeowners who pay federal taxes and have a solar system placed into service by the end of the year are eligible for a tax credit worth 30% of the cost of their system. 

This means, for an average $27,000 solar system a homeowner can claim an $8,100 credit when filing their 2022 taxes. In this example, if they owe $8,500 in taxes, they will only need to pay $400 in taxes after claiming the solar ITC ($8,500 – $8,100 = $400).

Graph of average NC solar prices in 2021, ranging from $10k for a 4kW system (after incentives) to $23k for a 12kW system (after incentives)

The great part is, there’s no cap on the system value that can be claimed via the Federal Solar Tax Credit. However, there are limits on what is eligible to include in the system cost. System components that can be counted toward the credit include solar panels, racking/mounting equipment, inverters, balance of system (wire, conduit, junction boxes, etc), installation labor (including design, inspection, and permitting fees), and sales & use taxes.

*Note: energy efficiency upgrades are not included on the above list! We have seen several solar companies try to include items like insulation, LED bulbs, smart thermostats, etc. as a solar system upgrade. These items are not eligible for the solar ITC.

Duke Energy Solar Rebate for Homes

The Duke Energy Solar Rebate is a result of House Bill 589 which was developed collaboratively by clean energy advocates, Duke Energy, and the legislature to continue North Carolina’s strong track record of promoting clean energy. Homes in Duke Energy territory that install solar electric (PV) systems are eligible for a rebate from Duke Energy. The residential Duke Energy Solar Rebate is worth 40 cents per watt, up to 10,000 watts ($4,000 max rebate value). 

The rebate has an annual cap and is awarded through a lottery system. There are two application enrollment periods in 2022 — one on January 5th and the other on July 6th. Since the Duke Solar Rebate program began in 2017, the application process has become increasingly competitive each year and rebates are now awarded through a random selection process.  

As you can tell, the Duke Energy Solar Rebate is highly competitive and is not guaranteed. The 2022 residential and commercial portion of the rebate has reached capacity. There will be a final rebate allocation in January 2023 to award any remaining rebate funds* to projects with meters swapped after October 13, 2022. This rebate application period will open on January 11, 2023 at 9am. Applications must be submitted by 9am on January 18th, 2023.

*Total capacity available for the 2023 allotment will not be determined until Dec 2022, based kW still remaining in the nonprofit bucket.    

Because the rebate cannot be guaranteed, Southern Energy Management will default to not including the rebate in your solar savings analysis. We’re happy to educate and consult on the impact of the rebate, how to apply, and your likelihood of receiving the rebate if you’re interested. Regardless of the Duke Energy Solar Rebate, solar is still a great investment in North Carolina, especially with the extension of the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar!

Other NC Residential Solar Incentives

Beyond the Federal Solar ITC and the Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate, there are no other major incentives at the state or national level. With many new players joining the hot NC solar market, we’d like to throw out a word of caution to be skeptical if you see a “NC state tax credit” on your solar proposal. As always, make sure pricing is transparent and terms are clearly defined. Here are a few other things to look out for on your solar proposal.  

Commercial Solar Incentives

There are even more solar incentives available for North Carolina businesses to take advantage of in 2022. When combined, the 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), 100% Bonus Depreciation, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant, and Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate make it possible for businesses to offset nearly 100% of the cost of going solar.

While situations where all 4 of these incentives stack together to reach 100% offset are rare, most of our commercial solar customers will see savings of between 40-70% on their solar system with some combination of those incentives.

30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for Businesses

Since there is no cap on the amount you can claim via the Federal Solar ITC, businesses can also claim the 30% solar tax credit. 

The biggest difference between the residential and commercial version of the Federal Solar ITC is the option to “safe harbor” the tax credit for commercial solar projects. Safe harboring means that commercial project owners are able to preserve the current tax credit value (at 30%) even if they don’t complete the project in the year 2022.

There are a few different routes for safe harboring, but the most common is the “Five Percent Safe Harbor Test”. Under this option, solar projects can confirm they have started construction on their project to qualify for the 30% tax credit by paying/incurring five percent or more of the total cost of the solar project. This is again time to restate that we are not tax professionals but that if you want to explore this option we can connect you with a CPA that specializes in tax issues related to solar projects to help build a plan that works for your situation.

More information about the Federal Tax Credit can be found on DSIRE.

The dollar value lost between 2020 and 2021 only gets larger as a solar system’s price increases. For a 100 kilowatt commercial solar system priced at $200,000, the value of the credit is $52,000 in 2020 vs $44,000 in 2021 — a loss of $8,000. Once 2022 comes around, the Federal Solar ITC will remain at 10% for commercial solar installations unless legislation is passed renewing the tax credit.

Chart of Step Down of Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for Businesses

Bonus Depreciation

Commercial solar systems are also eligible for 100% first year bonus depreciation. Most assets are depreciated over a long period of time, but by depreciating the entire solar system in the first year business owners are able to immediately save money on their taxes.

The value of depreciation depends on the business’ effective tax rate. For this example, let’s use a $100,000 system. In this case, if the business gets taxed at 20%, bonus depreciation impact is $20,000 less taxes paid. If a business is taxed at 35%, the impact would be $35,000 less taxes paid. So depending on the business’ effective tax rate, this incentive could be even more valuable than the Federal Tax Credit for Solar, taking another 20-35% off the cost of the system in the first year.

More information about bonus depreciation can be found at DSIRE: MACRS Depreciation.

USDA REAP Grant

The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant provides grants and loans to farmers and businesses for renewable energy projects, energy efficiency upgrades, and energy audits. Eligible farms and businesses can apply for a grant worth 25% of the project cost (up to $500k), with a minimum grant of $2500.

To qualify for the USDA REAP Grant, you must be a Agricultural Producer or Rural Small Business. You can check eligibility at usda.gov. Grants are awarded twice per year in the spring and fall. Applications are due to the USDA on April 30th and Oct 30th each year. 

Agricultural Producer

Individual or entity directly engaged in agricultural production whereby 50% or greater of its gross income is derived from agricultural production.

Rural Small Business

An entity or utility that meets the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Size Standards by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) found in 13 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121.

The April grant is open to projects above $80k size (that’s approximately the cost of a 35 kw solar system) while the October grant is only given to projects that cost less than $80k. To be on a confident timeline to compile and review the grant application for submission, we need to have the grant intake forms completed by the end of February. Reach out today to get started with your commercial solar project to make sure there’s time to get everything in order by the next REAP Grant deadline.

More information about the USDA REAP Grant can be found at DSIRE.

Duke Energy Solar Rebate for Businesses

The Duke Energy Solar Rebate is also available to businesses who are Duke Energy customers that install solar. This rebate is valued at 30 cents per watt for businesses, up to 100,000 watts ($30,000 max rebate value). Just like the residential portion of the rebate, the commercial rebate allocation is also awarded to businesses through a lottery system

The rebate application is highly competitive, and chances of receiving the rebate are very slim, especially for businesses. The 2022 commercial solar rebate has reached the program cap. However, there will be a final application period to award any remaining rebate funds in January 2023. If you’re interested in this incentive, let us know as soon as possible so we can get your project started and in a good place to be eligible for the rebate when the application period opens.

Because the rebate cannot be guaranteed and is so competitive, Southern Energy Management will default to not including the rebate in your solar savings analysis. We’re happy to educate and consult on the impact of the rebate and how to apply if you’re interested. Regardless of the NC Solar Rebate, solar is still a great investment in North Carolina for businesses, especially with the extension of the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar!  

Nonprofit Solar Incentives

Exciting solar news! Historically, nonprofits were not eligible for the 30% solar Investment TaxSince nonprofits do not have tax liability, they are not eligible for the 26% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power. However, it is still a great time for nonprofits in North Carolina to consider powering up with the sun because of other financial incentives.

30% Federal Direct Pay Reimbursement

Historically, nonprofits & government organizations were not eligible for the 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) since nonprofits do not have tax liability. However, the recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) expands the 30% incentive to include nonprofits and government organizations through a Direct Pay Reimbursement. This is huge news in the solar world, and opens up many more opportunities to expand solar across nonprofit roofs, especially when combined with other local incentives like the Duke Energy Solar Rebate!

Duke Energy Solar Rebate for Nonprofits

Nonprofits and churches that are Duke Energy customers have a unique opportunity to add extra savings to their solar installation. The Duke Energy NC Solar Rebate is also available to nonprofits at 75 cents per watt with a max rebate value of $75,000 (or 100,000 watts). Unlike the residential and commercial portions of the rebate, the nonprofit rebate has historically been less competitive. This means, the rebate is typically awarded to nonprofits on a first-come, first-served basis. 

As of this update, there is still nonprofit capacity available in the 2022 Duke Rebate. When combined with the 30% Federal Direct Pay Reimbursement, nonprofits can see up to 60% savings on the cost of their solar system. So if you are a NC nonprofit looking into going solar let us know today! 

Make a resolution to ditch your energy bill in 2022!

There are many reasons to go green, and several incentives that will save you even more. Going solar is a big decision, with a big reward. Let us know how we can help you tap into solar incentives and take control of your power this year.

Ready to Get Started?

Schedule a free assessment to learn more about solar power & battery storage for your home.

Request a Free Solar Assessment