Don’t Get Left Behind! What You Need to Know About the Latest Net Metering Changes

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Are you up to date on the latest changes in the Duke Energy net metering program? If not, now is the time to pay attention and get informed! Starting October 2023, net metering is changing and will look a little different for solar clients in North Carolina. While now is still an excellent time to go solar, the addition of batteries will protect against grid outages and utility rate changes. In this blog post, we take a look at some of the key takeaways from the changes Duke Energy is making that will impact solar in North Carolina. 

North Carolina Solar Net Metering

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is a payment model that explains how you will be charged for the energy you use and how you will receive credit for the solar energy you generate.

With an interconnected solar energy system you can benefit from net metering by receiving a credit that is equal to the energy produced by your solar panels. This means that for every unit of energy produced, you will receive an equivalent amount of credit. Through net metering, you receive the complete retail value of the credit when you use it to pay for the electricity you use at home during nighttime or on days when there is no sun. 

What’s Changing?

On November 29, 2021, Duke Energy submitted their proposed changes regarding House Bill 589 (HB 589). On March 23, 2023, the NCUC approved a version of their proposal that will become effective starting October 2023. The highlights of the proposal are:

  • All customers will ultimately be transitioning to a Time of Use (TOU) model; however, legacy customers and new customers within the next couple of years must have an interim net metering model.
  • Duke Energy must develop an online savings calculator within 60 days of the order. It should be available at least 30 days before the new models take effect. This calculator will help customers accurately estimate their savings.
  • Customers will no longer lose their extra solar energy credits every May. Instead, they will receive credit for the excess energy produced every billing period based on the wholesale rate of $0.034/kWh, after taking into account any applicable “Minimum Bill Charge” calculation.
  • During Critical Peak hours, customers on CPP will receive credit for any excess kWh produced. This credit will be applied during the same Critical Peak hours.
  • The maximum size for a residential solar system that customers can have is either 20 kW AC or the maximum monthly demand, whichever is less. It is not permissible to have an oversized solar system.

The modifications mentioned in the order will remain in effect until June 30, 2027. Duke Energy must submit a new filing with any necessary adjustments and to address issues related to cross-subsidization at least six months before the modifications expire.

To put it simply, Duke Energy will modify the way they credit solar energy on bills starting in November. If you switch to solar power BEFORE October 31, 2023, you will be eligible for the current system until 2027, and you will have more choices in the future as North Carolina moves towards a new solar era.

What Model Makes the Most Sense For Me?

Duke Energy published the NCUC-approved interconnection models, including the NMB-1 ‘Net Metering Bridge’ and RSC-2 ‘Residential Solar Choice’ riders, on April 4, 2023. For comparison, here is a look at current net metering rates: 

Net Metering Now Quick Facts/Stats:

Energy used from the grid .093/kwh 

Energy sent back to the grid .093/kwh

Base Monthly Charge = $14

Net Metering Bridge (NMB-1)

The modified net metering model for the Net Metering Bridge (NMB-1) rider will operate on a first-come, first-served basis and have an annual cap:

  • 2023: 16,350 kW AC
  • 2024: 35,900 kW AC
  • 2025: 39,500 kW AC
  • 2026: 43,500 kW AC

Once the yearly capacity is reached, customers will be automatically placed on the RSC-2 model. However, they can submit an application again for the next year. As of January 1, 2027, new participants will no longer be able to join this model. Duke Energy has stated that those who join this rider can use its service for up to 15 years from the date of application submission for interconnection. After the specified time, participants must switch to the RSC or another applicable net metering plan.

A ‘Minimum Bill Charge’ will be applied if the total of the Basic Facilities Charge, Customer and Distribution Energy Charges, and volumetric riders is less than $22. This means customers will be charged a minimum monthly bill of $22. Any surplus energy will receive credits every billing period at a wholesale rate of $0.034/kWh, after the calculation of the Minimum Bill Charge. If your system is less than or equal to 8 kW DC and you qualify for certain crisis or low-income programs, you will not be charged a Minimum Bill.

Net Metering Bridge (NMB-1) Quick Facts/Stats:

Energy used from the Grid .093/kwh

Energy send back to the grid .0335/kwh

Base Monthly Charge= $22

Residential Solar Choice (RSC-2)

New solar customers will have the Residential Solar Choice (RSC-2) rider, which is a time-of-use (TOU) model with CPP. This model treats critical peak hours as a separate time of use period for netting purposes. Therefore, any electricity generated during critical peak hours will be offset against the more expensive electricity consumed during those same hours.

If the total of the Basic Facilities Charge, Customer and Distribution Energy Charges, and volumetric riders comes out to be less than $28, customers will be charged a ‘Minimum Bill Charge’ of $28 per month. Any extra energy will be credited each billing period at the wholesale rate of $0.034/kWh, after calculating any Minimum Bill Charge.

Residential Solar Choice (RSC-2) Quick Facts/Stats:

Energy used from the Grid:

On Peak .19/kwh (summer 6-9pm, winter 6-9am)

Off Peak .084/kwh (summer 1-6am, winter 1-3am and 11-4pm)

Discount .06/kwh (All other hours)

Critical Peak .35/kwh (Determined by utility)

Energy send back to the grid: 

On Peak .034/kwh (summer 6-9pm, winter 6-9am)

Off Peak .018/kwh (summer 1-6am, winter 1-3am and 11-4pm)

Discount .014/kwh (All other hours)

Monthly Charge= $22

Why Go Solar Now?

There are several reasons why now is the best time to go solar:

  • Lock in solar energy before rates increase
  • Keep legacy net metering 
  • Avoid program changes until 2027
  • Have a range of options for how you are credited for solar in the future
  • Allow four more years to gather data points so you can better determine which credit option will be best for you going forward under Net Metering 2.0

Our team at Renewable Energy Design Group is here to help you get started and answer all your questions. Whether you’re looking to install your first system, upgrade your existing system, or install solar batteries to protect against grid outages and utility rate changes, Renewable Energy Design Group can do it all. Simply contact us today to let us know you’re interested in seeing your solar savings before Duke’s changes and rate increases. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and get you started on your path to a brighter, more sustainable energy future.