I. Direct Investment Impact
According to RTI International, North Carolina experienced $7.8 billion in direct investments or spending on renewable energy facilities between 2007 and 2016. Solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities accounted for 82% of this direct spending at $6.4 billion (in 2013$). RTI assumed this investment resulted in approximately 2,140 megawatts (MW) of PV capacity installed in the state over the same time period.
This means that every 1 MW of solar PV installed in North Carolina between 2007 and 2016 resulted in approximately $3 million in direct spending in the state. Using this estimate as a rough proxy for future direct spending from installed solar PV, the assumed 4,870 MW of solar that will be installed as a result of HB589 will result in approximately $14.6 billion in direct investments in North Carolina.
Table 1: Estimated Direct Solar Investments in North Carolina from HB589
|Source of New PV from HB589||Estimated Additional Capacity (MW)||Estimated Direct Investments ($ millions)|
|HB589 RFP||2,660||$ 7,968|
|HB589 Grandfathered projects still to be built||1,220||$ 3,654|
|Green Source Rider||600||$ 1,797|
|Solar Leasing||250||$ 749|
|Solar Rebate||100||$ 300|
|Community Solar||40||$ 120|
It is important to note that this future direct investment will be impacted by the price of PV equipment and labor costs associated with developing future PV facilities. Neither RTI nor NCSEA have run an analysis taking these potential cost estimates into account and NCSEA is using direct investment numbers from 2007-2016 as a proxy.
II. North Carolina’s Current Solar PV Capacity
Installed Capacity as of July 2017
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, North Carolina had the 2nd most installed solar PV capacity in the country. The NC Sustainable Energy Association tracks renewable energy systems installed in North Carolina based on filings at the NC Utilities Commission. As of July, 2017, North Carolina had 5,828 PV systems (projects) with a cumulative installed capacity of 2,866 MW (or 2.866 gigawatts).
Table 2: NC Installed Solar PV
Source: NCSEA’s Renewable Energy Database compiled from filings at the
NC Utilities Commission; as of July 2017.
New Opportunities for Small-Scale Solar PV Systems
As Table 2 makes clear, most of North Carolina’s installed solar PV capacity comes from large utility-scale projects. HB589 will provide much needed new opportunities for North Carolina home and business owners to take advantage of smaller solar PV systems through the solar rebates and leasing program that will be enabled by HB589.
Net Metering Customers
According to filings at the NC Utilities Commission by utilities and solar PV developers, there are approximately 4,512 net-metering customers (4,173 residential and 300 commercial customers) as of July 2017. This represents 51 MW of installed solar PV capacity (all projects under 1MW). These net metering customers have already been providing benefits to the state’s electric grid and it is important that the net metering study mandated in HB589 reflects the benefits these and future net metering systems provide.
Community Solar Systems
Currently, there are only 11 community solar systems in North Carolina, which were developed by electric cooperatives across the state. HB589 will greatly expand community solar options to the millions of North Carolina residents who live in Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas service territories.
Map: NC Electric Cooperatives’ Community Solar Systems
III. Impact of HB589 Wind Moratorium
NCSEA and other members of the legislative stakeholder process that led to HB589 continue to be extremely disappointed in the 18-month wind moratorium that was unnecessarily inserted into the NC House-passed version of HB589, which all of the participating stakeholders supported.
This wind moratorium threatens two already proposed projects that would bring significant investment into rural communities in Eastern North Carolina. The Timber Mill Wind project being developed by Apex Clean Energy in Chowan and Perquimans Counties represents an estimated $500 million investment, while the Little Alligator project being developed by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) in Tyrell County represents a $200 million investment. 
This moratorium unnecessarily puts this combined $700 million in investment in serious jeopardy while sending a terrible signal to potential future wind farm developments in the state.
 RTI (2017). Economic Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina - 2017 Update. https://energync.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NCSEA_2017_Final_RTI-6-29-17-1.pdf