Solar advocates, Duke Energy reach net metering agreement in North Carolina

Duke Energy and solar industry stakeholders have reached an agreement on net metering policy in North Carolina that will help expand distributed solar generation and benefit utility customers, the parties announced Tuesday.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, the primary lobbying group for the industry, commended the years-long process to craft an agreement with Duke. The policy framework was filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) yesterday.

Net metering policy establishes how much a utility will credit a customer for excess energy delivered to the grid, taking into account infrastructure costs and benefits to the broader customer base. The net metering debate in California, for example, is highly contentious with utilities attempting to drastically reduce credits for distributed solar generators.

“North Carolina’s net metering agreement was crafted with input from SEIA and its partners and helps to create a policy that works for solar customers, installers, and utilities in the state,” said Will Giese, regional director Southeast at SEIA. “This is a step in the right direction for the Southeast and is an example of the ways that smart energy policy can unlock the full potential of rooftop solar, especially when paired with storage and other smart energy technologies. 

“We have seen what’s possible in the region through the South Carolina Net Metering Successor program and we are excited to expand the North Carolina market in a similar manner.”

If approved by the NCUC, the new net metering tariffs would go into effect for customers submitting applications on or after Jan. 1, 2023. The policy would not be changed for 10 years. 

The agreement is similar to the deal reached between Duke Energy and solar advocates in South Carolina last year.

“The agreement modernizes rooftop solar economics and unlocks benefits for all customers,” said Lon Huber, Duke Energy’s vice president of strategic solutions. “Net metering has been a contentious issue around the nation, but our stakeholder partners worked together to craft a fair solution that brings financial sustainability to rooftop solar in North Carolina.”

Duke said the proposed net metering policy is designed to align with North Carolina’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The agreement includes (among other points):

Monthly Minimum Bill
$22 for DEC
$28 for DEP

Monthly Grid Access Fee of generators with capacity greater than 15 kW-dc
DEC GAF: $2.05/kW – dc/month
DEP GAF: $1.50/kW – dc/month

Non-Bypassable Charges for costs related to DSM/EE, storm cost recovery, and cyber security
Grandfathers customers under previous net metering policy until Jan. 1, 2027