Solarize Raleigh – FAQs

 

How do I know if my home is suitable for a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation?

Because the rays of the sun serve as the “fuel” for a solar PV system, the optimal location for a stationary solar PV system in the Northern Hemisphere is on a south-facing rooftop or ground-mounted installation. While the installer or installers selected by Solarize Raleigh will ultimately determine if your home is suitable for installations, homes that are strong candidates for solar PV have a large, unobstructed south-facing roof or other portion of their property.

 

How much will my solar PV system cost?

Since an installer or group of installers has not yet been selected to supply customers wanting to go solar, Solarize Raleigh is unable to provide precise quotes or pricing associated with participation at this time. However, in Asheville, NC, Solarize Asheville customers were able to receive discounts of 26 percent relative to the average cost of residential-scale solar PV in North Carolina. Solarize Raleigh will offer customers tiered pricing based on the number of customers that ultimately choose to sign up, and aims to match the volume discount levels achieved by customers in Asheville.

 

How can going solar reduce my electric bill?

When generating electricity, solar PV systems help to reduce the amount of energy a home or business demands from the electric grid. In addition, Duke Energy Progress, Raleigh’s local utility and grid operator, is required (subject to various terms and conditions) to pay customers who go solar for the power that its customers export (sell) back to it in a billing arrangement referred to as “net metering”. This means that Solarize Raleigh customers that choose to go solar save on their electric bill from avoiding costs for the electricity they receive from Duke Energy Progress, as well as from payments for the electricity they sell back to Duke Energy Progress. Click here to view Duke Energy Progress’ current net metering tariff agreement, as approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

 

How does the Solarize Raleigh program use market forces to reduce the cost of solar when it is purchased as part of a large group?

The Solarize Raleigh pilot program will use a tiered pricing structure – as more people decide to participate, the price paid per watt of solar for each program participant decreases. This serves as an incentive for those who have already signed up for the program to try to persuade others to participate.

Cost reductions from the program will likely come in the form of reduced marketing and deal closing costs, given that the program is designed to shorten the time between first contact between installer and customer and the installation of the system. Solarize programs have proven to reduce these costs, which include lead generation, bid and pro-forma preparation, contract negotiation, customer indecision, and system design, all of which can increase costs to the installer, increasing the overall cost of doing business.

 

Will Solarize Raleigh hurt competition in the Triangle’s rooftop solar market?

Solarize Raleigh’s goal is to create a vibrant, competitive rooftop solar PV market in the Triangle area that goes well beyond the timeframe of the program. The Solarize Raleigh pilot program welcomes bids from any qualified installer or installer team, and will evaluate bids using objective criteria that seek to provide the citizens of Raleigh the best value proposition possible through the Solarize program. Solarize programs have been shown to create significant growth of the solar market,  including after-market effects that create sustained growth in local solar PV markets after the Solarize program has concluded.

 

Will Solarize Raleigh reduce consumer choice?

Absolutely not. While the pilot program’s price guarantees will only apply if the customer chooses to go with the selected installer (or installer team), the pilot does not in any way prevent residents from getting multiple quotes or choosing not to participate in the program. Customers will be encouraged to use the same cost and quality comparison in selecting an installer as they would have used in the absence of Solarize Raleigh. In addition, any installer (or installer team) not selected through Solarize Raleigh’s competitive bidding process is free to go on marketing to any customer they choose and offering any price they choose to offer.

 

Is Solarize Raleigh designed to offer the lowest possible price to consumers?

The goal of the Solarize Raleigh pilot program is not to offer the lowest possible price, but a lower price by reducing customer costs. Solarize Raleigh intends to select the installer (or installer team) that offers the best overall value proposition to customers and the program. This includes price, but also experience, quality, community engagement, and marketing/outreach plans.

 

I do not live in the City of Raleigh itself, so can I still participate in the program?

This pilot program is limited only to people who own a home within the City Limits of Raleigh, NC, or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of Raleigh, as determined by Solarize Raleigh staff. This is because a key component of the cost of going solar is the cost of obtaining municipal building, electrical, and other permits, and these costs differ across local jurisdictions.

If you do not live within the Raleigh City Limits or ETJ, please contact Kathleen Fleming at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association to learn more about solar options available to you and to be put in touch with local solar installers. Call Kathleen at (919) 832-7601 ext. 107, or send an email to kathleen@energync.org.

 

What effect would going solar through Solarize Raleigh have on my home’s value?

While the difficulty in accessing relevant data for North Carolina is a limiting factor, a 2011 peer-reviewed study by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that an average sized (3.1 kW) residential solar PV array increased the value of a home in California by $17,000. At a minimum, the findings of this study suggest that going solar will likely not reduce the value of your home, and may even increase it, since homebuyers may value solar PV’s ability to reduce high summer utility bills and be willing to pay more for a house that had PV installed.

 

Will installing a solar PV system as part of Solarize Raleigh force me to pay more in property taxes?

No, it should not. The North Carolina Department of Revenue has clearly stated that if the solar PV system is not used “to generate income in connection with a business”, counties should not include assessed value of that system in the calculation of your property taxes. For more information about this policy, please visit the North Carolina “Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems” page of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

 

What government or utility financial incentives are available to reduce the cost even further?


While Solarize Raleigh hopes to offer substantial volume discounts based solely on the rate of participation (and not on a program-based incentive), there are several federal, state and utility incentives that have the effect of significantly reducing the cost of going solar above and beyond the discounts offered by Solarize Raleigh. These incentives include a 30% federal investment tax credit for individuals, a 35% state investment tax credit for individuals and a Duke Energy Progress rebate.

 

What financing options will be available under this program?

Solarize Raleigh plans to team up with a financing partner that can offer no-money down financing for qualified customers. Third-party power purchase agreements, in which an installer installs a PV system it owns and sells the customer the electricity, are currently illegal in the State of North Carolina.

 

How can I become a volunteer for Solarize Raleigh?

You can become a volunteer by clicking here, entering your information and indicating your desire to volunteer. Solarize Raleigh and its partner organizations will hold a volunteer training in early 2014.

 

How is Solarize Raleigh funded?

The N.C. Solar Center is part of the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), which is funded under a 5-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy awarded in 2010.  The SolarOPs team comprises nearly a dozen organizations and is designed to provide a range of technical assistance targeting municipalities interested in encouraging local markets for solar energy.  For further information and resources related to SolarOPs programs, please visit solaroutreach.org.

The Solarize Raleigh program has been endorsed by Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the Raleigh City Council.

As Solarize Raleigh does not provide customers with additional financial incentives, SolarOPs funds will go towards compensating the Solar Center for its operation of the program and its technical assistance to the City of Raleigh.