Clean and renewable energy is a rapidly growing industry in North Carolina, with new solar installations popping up across the state—150 currently producing power and nearly 400 more in planning or development. And the business of solar is reaping big benefits for our state’s economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs and bringing in millions of dollars of investment money. So, in addition to clean and renewable energy, the industry has been a real boon to development and economic growth.
While the general consensus is that solar power is nothing but a positive for North Carolina—and the research more than proves it—a number of pervasive myths have stuck around about the real costs of solar and its effects on those paying electric rates. And like most popular myths, they’re based on a misunderstanding of the actual facts about solar. So let’s take a deeper look at the facts and address some of these falsehoods about our state’s growing clean and renewable energy industry:
- Fact #1: Solar power is a competitive energy option. Business innovation and increased consumer demand means that the price of going solar in the America has dropped by half over the past five years. Competitive costs mean that the U.S. added more new solar than natural gas capacity for the first time ever last year. Expanding consumer solar options will help to bring greater market competition and bring more affordable solar power to North Carolina.
- Fact #2: The benefits of solar outweigh the costs. Rooftop solar brings private investment in local energy production that reduces the need for expensive utility infrastructure system-wide. The cost of residential solar has been falling by 6-8% a year since 1998. According to the best current estimates, the benefits of solar outweigh the cost by 30%. Those consumer savings come in addition to the very real economic and health benefits of local solar market growth. On every level, investment in solar energy makes economic and financial sense for individuals and communities.
- Fact # 3: Solar customers pay for the grid. All NC electrical utility customers pay a fee to maintain the electrical grid, and this won’t change with the growth of solar. Any model for residential or commercial solar would continue to support the utility grid in North Carolina. Furthermore, as noted above, those customers will provide the additional benefits of private investment in power infrastructure that lowers costs for others.
Clean and renewable energy development offers huge advantages, both now and for the future. Solar power offers a profitable way to advance our state’s infrastructure development while preserving our agricultural and natural heritage. However, some changes need to be made for us to take full advantage of everything the sustainable energy industry has to offer. By dispelling the myths and adopting common-sense practices like third-party financing, we can ensure that solar development helps secure North Carolina’s prosperity both now and for generations to come.