Solar and Community Solar Programs Projects in this section align with one or more of the following key Clean Energy Plan recommendations: Recommendation D, Modernize the grid to support clean energy resources. Recommendation I, Address equitable access and energy affordability. Recommendation J, Foster a just transition to clean energy. Community Solar for Low to Moderate Income Customers (CEP Recommendations I & J) The DEQ State Energy Office is partnering with North Carolina utilities and electric cooperatives to bring renewable solar energy to eligible low-income residents across the state! To further NC DEQ’s mission to provide science-based environmental stewardship for the health and prosperity of ALL North Carolinians, the NC Weatherization Program (“WAP”) will fund qualified low-to-moderate income (LMI) households’ participation in utility community solar programs statewide. Community Solar allows electric customers to receive the carbon and cost-saving benefits of renewable energy without having to pay for or to install rooftop solar infrastructure. Community Solar infrastructure is accessed through a solar farm owned by the utility through a subscription, or a shared ownership model in some cases. Homes identified by the WAP community solar program will be provided with energy-saving weatherization services by their local weatherization agency, including but not limited to: • Attic Insulation, • Air duct sealing, • Refrigerator evaluation, • HVAC system repair/replacements, • Smoke/carbon monoxide detector replacement, • Lighting upgrades (LEDs), • Infiltration reduction, Following home weatherization, applicants will be enrolled in their utility’s community solar program and will receive the cost-saving benefits of renewable energy and weatherization. The cost of enrollment in the utility community solar program will be subsidized by the NC State Energy Program. Over the course of enrollment, participants of the WAP community solar program will earn a target energy production benefit of $365.00 per year for a period of no less than 15 years. Target benefits will be applied to eligible participants through their electric utility bills. Eligibility Applicants for the NC WAP Community Solar Partnership program must meet the following requirements*: • Applicant must be within the participating utility’s service range • Electric utility bills must be in the applicant’s name • Households must be single-family dwellings, stick-built, or mobile homes • Applicants can be homeowners or renters *Individual utilities may have additional requirements to access community solar benefits. For more information, please visit each utility’s program website. For more information on NC WAP click here. Partnering Utilities Blue Ridge Energy Cooperative Fayetteville Public Works Commission Roanoke Electric Cooperative Utility Completed/Planned Projects Program Specifics Participant Monthly Credit Blue Ridge Energy Cooperative 10 participants 4 panels assigned to each participant per month $3.20 per panel per month Fayetteville Public Works Commission 15 participants 12 panels assigned to each participant per month $30.12 per month Roanoke Electric Cooperative 19 participants, with an additional 5 LMI customers in the utility's Upgrade to $ave program Participants earn benefits of being enrolled in the Upgrade to $ave program $30.00 per month NC Clean Energy Technology Center Community Solar Program (CEP Recommendations I & J) The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NC CETC) will work with electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, and their state associations to expand access to community solar programs to low and moderate-income households. The Center will partner with existing and planned community solar generators in NC with the end goal of contracting with 1-3 cooperatives and municipal utilities to provide funding to offset community solar subscription costs and begin providing direct monthly savings on utility bills for utility customers in late 2021. The main objectives of the NC CETC community Solar program are to encourage outreach and education about community solar benefits and programs to LMI communities in utility service areas and to create a more simplified grant administration to participating utilities on the behalf of the State Enery Program. Solar and Solar Storage Systems (CEP Recommendations D, I, & J) The Appalachian Energy Center (AEC) is conducting a pilot project to determine the feasibility and added resiliency of “solar photovoltaic (PV) + battery energy storage systems” to reduce energy consumption, costs, and the carbon footprint of low-to-moderate (LMI) households in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey (WAMY) counties. Conventional grid-tied PV arrays tend to have higher electricity generation during solar noon of summer months; however, residential peak demand tends to occur in morning and evening hours. The mismatch between peak PV electricity generation and demand means that systems must export or curtail excess generation during mid-day hours to the grid. However, adding battery energy storage systems to the array can eliminate production mismatches with demand, provide resiliency benefits for households by supplying backup power during grid outages, and provide peak shaving and voltage support for the grid. The AEC is partnering with the WAMY Weatherization Assistance Program to identify LMI clients, install up to six PV + battery energy storage systems, train the occupants about the function and use of the systems, monitor the system performance for 12 months, and use collected data to model the costs and benefits under a range of interconnection scenarios and utility rate structures. More Information For more information about individual utility requirements, please visit the utility webpages above. For utilities interested in participating in the WAP LMI community solar program, please contact Maye Hickman. For more information about the NC Clean Energy Technology Center Community Solar Partnership, please contact Bob Leker. For more information on the Appalachian Energy Center Solar storage initiative, contact Matthew Davis.