North Carolina Approves Net Metering

Seven years after formal requests were submitted, North Carolina will finally have net-metering. The State joins the not-so-exclusive club of 39 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing net metering, which allows people with grid-tied renewable energy systems to run their meter backwards when they are producing more electricity than they are consuming.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) issued its net metering order last week, a ruling long sought after by the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) and the Solar Center. “We’re delighted that our years of hard work have paid off, and we now have this added incentive for North Carolinians to install solar electric power systems and other forms of renewable energy generation at their homes and businesses,” said Mark Ginsberg, NCSEA’s Executive Director. Home owners, farmers and businesses with small renewable energy generation systems will now have a choice between supplying energy for the NC GreenPower program (see link below) or using the new net metering rules. “This is an important step in the creation of a viable renewable energy market in North Carolina,” said Stephen Kalland, Deputy Director of the NC Solar Center. “While NC GreenPower may provide a better deal for customer-generators with small solar electric systems, net metering provides a potentially valuable option for larger photovoltaic (PV) systems, small wind and biomass generators.” Effective January 1, 2006, customers of Dominion, Duke and Progress power companies that want to be small, renewable energy generators — up to 20 kW for residential and 100 kW for commercial — can finally connect to the grid, and then generate and store excess generation on the grid for later use. Because the N.C. Utilities Commission does not regulate electric coops and municipal utilities, their customers, with the help of NCSEA and the Solar Center, will have to ask each of them to accept net metering. NCSEA requested a docket on net metering seven years ago, and after a break to settle related issues on green power and interconnection, recently requested that it be reopened. In 2004 and 2005, with technical help from the NC Solar Center at NC State University, NCSEA was able to get an interconnection standard approved paving the way for a decision on net metering. “Our patience and willingness to work with all parties has paid off, and the potential future for renewable energy in North Carolina is bright,” said NCSEA Board member and Policy Chair Richard Harkrader. “With the approval of net metering, North Carolina now has an array of incentives that give us the potential to become a national leader in the installation of renewable energy generation.”
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