Energy Incentive Programs, North Carolina

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Updated July 2015

The state’s utilities budgeted over $130 million for energy efficiency and load management programs in 2014.

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

North Carolina has no public purpose-funded energy efficiency programs. 

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Dominion North Carolina Power offers energy conservation programs for heating and cooling, lighting systems and controls, and window film.

Duke Energy’s Smart Saver Incentive program provides rebates for high efficiency lighting, VFDs, pumps, HVAC equipment (including chillers), IT, industrial processes, and food service equipment. The Smart Saver Custom Incentive program is available for measures outside of the prescriptive program’s scope. Incentives are capped at 75% of the incremental cost. On-line, off-site, and on-site energy assessments are also available for large businesses. 

Duke Energy Progress (previously Progress Energy) offers incentives and technical assistance for both retrofits and new construction through their Energy Efficiency for Business program. Prescriptive rebates available for efficient equipment include lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and premium efficiency motors. A custom option provides an incentive of $0.08/kWh for first-year savings (up to 75% of the incremental measure cost) for measures and equipment not on the prescriptive list. For whole-building new construction applications, the rebate is either $0.09/kWh or $0.14/kWh (for projects showing at least 10% and 20% savings relative to code, respectively). In addition, financial incentives are available for energy-efficient design or building simulation modeling in new construction projects. Feasibility studies for existing facilities are subsidized at up to 50% of cost. Pre-approval applications are required for some elements of the program and encouraged for all.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is the largest publicly-owned utility in the U.S. Under its Energy Right Solutions program, TVA offers a variety of resources to commercial and industrial customers that are served by participating distributors of TVA power: 

  • Standard Rebates and Custom Incentives provide two different options for offsetting the costs of energy efficiency projects. Standard cash rebates are available for replacing specific types of equipment (lighting, motors, HVAC, and food service equipment) with more efficient versions. Projects that are more comprehensive or involve other types of efficiency upgrades may qualify for custom incentives. 

  • Other resources include technical advice for qualifying customers and the Business Energy Advisor, which provides calculators and tips on common ways to reduce energy by facility type. 

PSNC Energy provides a $0.05/therm rate discount to LEED-certified buildings on its High Efficiency Small General Service (Rate 127) gas tariff. Rebates for efficient furnaces, boilers, and water heaters are also available.

Several small municipals and cooperatives also run their own efficiency programs, which are profiled by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

Duke Energy offers load management programs that may be of interest to federal customers:  

  • The PowerShare program provides financial incentives for reducing energy consumption levels during peak use periods. Customers may choose from a variety of curtailment options, including voluntary and mandatory load drops. There are also options to participate with self-generation equipment and to tailor the program for the number of events your site is willing to participate in each year.

  • The Peak Load Management program offers negotiated incentives for small- to mid-sized customers (< 500 kW) to reduce load during the utility’s peak periods. Participants must reduce their demand down to a firm level upon being notified by the company. 

  • The Real Time Pricing program allows very large (> 5,000 kW) customers to save by shifting load away from peak periods when electricity is costliest, based on day-ahead pricing quotes.  

Duke Energy Progress’ load management programs include the following:

  • The optional real-time pricing tariff is available for up to 85 large customers (demand of 1,000 kW or greater).  Participants are notified a day in advance of the hourly energy prices for the following day, and are charged or credited at these rates for any usage above or below a customer baseline load (CBL) that is based on their historical use.

  • Several available curtailable and dispatchible rate options offer favorable terms for general-use electricity in exchange for dedicated load that customers can reduce at the utility’s request. 

The PJM Interconnection (PJM), a regional transmission organization (RTO), offers several demand response programs. Two specific programs may be attractive to federal facilities in the PJM footprint:

  • The Economic Load Response program allows electricity users to provide load reductions in exchange for a payment based on hourly wholesale electricity prices. Participation is fully voluntary. Customers start by submitting load reduction bids through their curtailment service provider (any existing PJM member, such as their utility, a third-party electricity supplier, or a specialty CSP) of at least 100 kW into the day-ahead energy market. Participants whose bids are accepted are paid for their load reductions based upon the day-ahead, hourly electricity market prices (the day-ahead “locational marginal price,” or LMP). Reductions are figured based on a customer baseline load (CBL), which is essentially the average of load levels for the same hours in four of the facility's previous non-responding days. Regardless of which type of firm it is, the CSP will generally offer to split the revenues with the customer at a pre-determined percentage. 

  • PJM’s emergency “capacity” program allows demand resources to participate in PJM’s Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) forward capacity market via a CSP. Participants pledge to either reduce their load by a specified amount (guaranteed load drop, GLD), or to a specific kW level (known as firm service level, FSL), within one or two hours of an event notification. Load reductions are mandatory and may occur up to ten times per year, lasting up to six hours per event. Penalties for non-compliance are substantial. Remuneration is based on the results of the annual RPM capacity auctions in various PJM regions.. Remuneration levels for the 2016-17 PJM year (which begins June 1, 2016) are in the $22,000 per MW range for North Carolina customers. Participants are also eligible to receive energy payments for actual reductions, if and when the program is called. 

In both programs, participants can provide load reductions either through curtailing electricity use or operating on-site generation consistent with local environmental regulations and permits.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on programs that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may be of interest to federal customers.

  • The NC GreenPower Production Incentive offers payments per kWh produced to producers of electricity from solar, wind, biomass, and small (< 10 MW) hydropower installations. NC GreenPower, an independent non-profit created by numerous stakeholders (including some of the state’s electric utilities) to promote renewable generation throughout North Carolina, issues periodic RFPs based on voluntary consumer demand for renewable electricity in the state, but owners of small (sub-5 and-10 kW, respectively) PV and wind systems can apply at any time via an expedited application process. Remuneration rates (including both the participating utility’s power purchase and NC GreenPower’s payment for the renewable energy credits) vary by technology and time, depending on a bidding process.  

  • TVA’s Renewable Standard Offer program provides power purchase plans of up to 20 years to developers of renewable projects (biomass combustion, biomass gasification, methane recovery, wind and solar) greater than 50 kW and up to 20 MW in size. Rates paid are based on seasonal time-of-day averages. To be eligible, projects must have gone online after October 1st, 2010. The energy seller must provide TVA with project financing and interconnection agreements as well as metering installation plans, and must sign over title to RECs and other environmental attributes generated by the system. The Solar Solutions Initiative pilot program offers additional incentives to participants in the standard program that use local NABCEP-certified installers. 

  • Through the Green Power Providers program, TVA will provide an up-front incentive of $1,000 and then purchase the output of a solar photovoltaic, wind, biomass, or small hydropower installation of up to 50 kW for ten years. The maximum installation size is 50 kW. Larger systems may qualify for the Renewable Standard Offer. Purchases must be brokered by a participating power distributor (generally, utilities that purchase TVA power).

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

The North Carolina Energy Division offers a variety of energy efficiency initiatives, but none is currently available to federal facilities.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (such as Duke Energy and Virginia Electric and Power Company) may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.

PJM (see above in the demand response section) now allows energy efficiency projects to participate in its forward capacity markets, based on its Reliability Pricing Model (RPM). To be eligible, EE projects must reduce load continuously by at least 100 kW during peak summer hours. This load reduction can be bid into PJM’s annual (for three years in advance) and "residual" (nearer-term) capacity auctions, and if selected will receive the auction clearing price. Interested customers can participate through energy service companies conducting ESPCs or utilities executing UESCs at their sites.