NET METERING IN NORTH CAROLINA IS CHANGING
On March 23, 2023, in Docket No. E-100, Sub 180, the Commission issued its Order Approving Revised Net Metering Tariffs. This Order is the result of legislation passed in 2017 (N.C.G.S § 62-126.4) which required the Commission to establish net metering rates which "ensure that the net metering retail customer pays its full fixed cost of service." Some key points from the Order and the Commission's May 17, 2023 Order Granting Extension of Time:
- The current residential net metering rider (Rider NM) is closed to new customers as of September 30, 2023.
- The revised Net Metering riders (Residential Solar Choice (Rider RSC) and Net Metering Bridge (Rider NMB)) are effective October 1, 2023 for residential customers.
- Rider RSC is the new net metering rider. It introduces new charges, including a minimum monthly bill, non-bypassable charges for storm recovery and cyber security costs, and a grid access fee for systems larger than 15 kW (alternating current), and requires that customers take service under a Time-Of-Use with Critical Peak Pricing rate schedule. Net exports will be credited at the utility's avoided cost rate each month.
- Rider NMB is the result of a stipulation between Duke Energy and several rooftop solar installers, and is similar to the Rider RSC except that customers are not required to take service under a Time-Of-Use with Critical Peak Pricing rate schedule. It is open to a limited number of customers each year; when this limit is reached, new customers will be required to take service under Rider RSC. Customers can stay on this rider for up to 15 years from the date of their interconnection request application, at which point they will be required to transfer to Rider RSC or another net metering tariff in effect at that time.
- Residential customers with existing net metered systems will be eligible to continue taking service under Rider NM until December 31, 2026, at which point they will be automatically transitioned to Rider NMB.
- Residential customers who wish to participate in Rider NM will have until September 30, 2023 to submit a complete interconnection request/application, and eligibility will be based on the date the application is received by Duke Energy. These customers can remain on Rider NM until December 31, 2026, at which point they will be automatically transitioned to Rider NMB.
The revised net metering riders can be found at https://www.duke-energy.com/home/billing/rates after selecting your correct service territory in the upper right of the webpage.
If you are an electric utility customer and are interested in generating your own renewable energy to offset your electricity bill, North Carolina law allows you to do so if you meet the following criteria:
- The renewable energy facility must be intended to offset part or all of your own electricity needs, not to sell electricity to your electric utility;
- The renewable energy facility must have a capacity of 1 MW AC or less for non-residential customers and 20 kW AC or less for residential customers; and
- The renewable energy facility must interconnect with the utility’s system pursuant to the current generator interconnection standard and operate in parallel with the utility’s distribution system.
Eligible energy resources include solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, and hydropower.
Net metering is a billing arrangement whereby a customer who generates their own electricity from renewable energy resources can receive a credit on their electric utility bill for any extra electricity produced by the customer that flows back onto the electric utility’s distribution system.
Generating your own electricity may reduce your electric bill in two ways:
- The electricity you produce displaces electricity you would otherwise have purchased from the electric utility; and
- Your electricity bill is lowered by the amount of electricity your generating system may feed back onto the utility’s system.
If you want a net metering billing arrangement, your generating equipment must be connected to your electric utility’s distribution system. While your generating equipment is producing electricity, your home will consume that electricity first, before any is consumed from the grid. Whenever your generating equipment produces more electricity than you need, the extra electricity flows backward through the utility meter on your property.
If you are on a standard rate schedule, the flow of excess electricity backward onto the grid results in a lower monthly meter reading by the electric utility, thus lowering your electric bill. If you are on a time-of-use rate schedule (meaning that you are billed at a higher rate for energy used during on-peak hours, and at a lower rate for energy used during off-peak hours), any excess electricity that flows backward through your meter during on-peak hours will reduce your electric bill at your on-peak rate, and any excess electricity that flows backward through your meter during off-peak hours will reduce your electric bill at your off-peak rate.
In the case of excess generation, a credit will be noted on your electric utility bill.
For customers taking service under the legacy Rider NM, the credit can be used to offset charges in future months. However, on June 1 for DEC and May 31 for DEP of each year, any unused credit that has accumulated over the previous 12 months is forfeited. This reflects the fact that electricity is more costly in the high-demand summer and winter months than in the cool spring and fall months. For example, excess electricity that you generate and put onto the grid in April does not fully compensate the utility for the electricity that you consume in July, because it costs the utility more to generate that electricity in July than it does in April. If the credits could accumulate indefinitely, it would allow you to treat the grid like an “electricity bank”, and unfortunately the grid does not currently have that type of storage capacity.
For customers taking service under the new Rider Net Metering Bridge or Residential Solar Choice, the excess energy you export each month will be credited at the Net Excess Energy Credit (NEEC) rate, which is based on the utility's avoided Costs. The most recent NEEC can be found on your applicable net metering rider.
The net metering credit is limited primarily to kilowatt-hour (kWh) charges. Other portions of your bill, like the fixed customer charge and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) charge, cannot be offset by the net metering credit. The revised net metering riders, Net Metering Bridge and Residential Solar Choice, also introduce a monthly minimum bill, which reflects the full fixed cost to serve net metering customers. Other new charges, such as non-bypassable charges related to major storm recovery and cyber security fixed costs, can contribute towards your minimum bill. The exact amount of the minimum bill can be found on your applicable net metering rider.
No. Due to safety reasons, if the electric service to your home is out, your renewable energy facility will be forced offline. This precaution is to prevent your generation system from feeding excess electricity onto the grid, which would put utility line workers at risk as they repair electrical lines. The only way to supply power to your home with distributed generation during power outages is to invest in an energy storage system and a transfer switch.
The rates of rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities are not regulated by the Utilities Commission. While they are not required to offer net metering, some may do so. Contact your electric cooperative or municipal utility to find out what they offer.
Contact your local electric utility to request an application form for interconnection service for your proposed renewable energy facility. You must complete an application form for your electric utility to review and approve before you attempt to connect to their system.
The interconnection review process varies based on the amount of electricity you intend to produce and the location of your equipment on the electric utility’s system. Your installer can help walk you through these forms.