From 2014-2016, NC WARN sponsored Solarize programs in the Triangle and Triad. Read more below and on the pages linked above.
As of August 2022, a collaborative of local governments is sponsoring a new program called Solarize the Triangle. Visit solarizethetriangle.com for more information.
Solarize is a highly successful model for expanding solar power on homes and businesses. It was pioneered in Portland, Oregon in 2009. The Solarize model is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy, which has published A Solarize Guidebook to help communities start Solarize programs. More guidance is available from the American Cities Climate Challenge and you can learn about what worked from recent Solarize programs in this article.
Solarize programs are usually sponsored by nonprofit organizations in partnership with one or more commercial solar installation companies. Learn more here about how Solarize programs work.
Solarize programs in North Carolina sponsored by NC WARN and others helped nearly 500 homes and businesses go solar between 2013 and 2016. To see a list of past and present Solarize programs in North Carolina, visit our Locations page. And here are some….
…Tips for Going Solar
If there is no Solarize program in your area, don’t worry! It is still possible to go solar affordably. Just read our Tips for Going Solar and contact one of the vetted solar installers listed there. The installers will give you a free assessment and proposal.
If you decide to install solar, you will generate most of your own electricity and get credit for excess power that you send back to the grid (known as “net metering”). Power bill savings start the day the system is installed, locking in low-cost clean energy for 25 years or more.
In 2021, Duke Energy introduced a proposal at the NC Utilities Commission that would weaken the rules for net metering. Learn more here, including how you can help protect net metering.
We are dedicated to extending the benefits of solar energy to those in the community who would otherwise be unable to afford it. A small percentage of each NC WARN Solarize contract went into our Sharing Solar fund that was used to share solar savings with others. Read more here.
Solar for Faith Communities
In 2016, we worked with faith communities around the Triangle to make sure their members knew how they could go solar at home. Read more here and see a list of our faith partners.
It is more difficult for faith organizations themselves to install solar power because they are nonprofit and thus cannot take advantage of the Federal tax credit.
Also, the upfront cost can be substantial, especially for a large building. No-money-down models that are used in other states are not available in North Carolina.
NC WARN tried in 2017 and 2018 to develop a model that would enable faith communities to install solar at no upfront cost and in a way that would save them money immediately. That project was called Faith in Solar. Learn more here. Though the goal was not met, our volunteers are still working with faith groups and helping them learn about their options for going solar.
More About Solarize
The Solarize model originated in Portland, Oregon as a grassroots effort to greatly increase the installation of rooftop residential solar power systems. It has proven highly successful in dozens of communities across the country since 2009.
The Solarize model relies on nonprofit connections and community relationships to facilitate group discounts on purchases of solar power systems. It removes barriers and simplifies the decision to install a solar power system to a yes or no proposition. Through peer-to-peer education, groups of homeowners are able to secure solar power systems for prices below the normal retail cost of solar power, which has already fallen dramatically in recent years.
The built-in tiered pricing structure (lower prices as more homeowners participate) allows homeowners to save even more and incentivizes the peer-to-peer education.
See our Locations page for a list of current Solarize programs in North Carolina, and information on programs that have been offered around the state since 2013.
Partners in the Solarize program were:
NC WARN is a Durham-based climate and energy justice nonprofit that offered Solarize programs in Durham, Chatham County, Western Wake County and the Triad. In addition to helping individuals reduce their carbon footprint, NC WARN puts pressure on Duke Energy — the world’s largest corporate utility — to change its business model in time to avert climate catastrophe.
NextClimate, based in Carrboro, was founded as a nonprofit in 2013 and sponsored Solarize programs in Orange County and the greater Triangle. Its mission is to empower people to take action on climate change. NextClimate believes that bringing affordable solar power to the people of North Carolina is the best way to lower energy costs, heighten self-reliance and strengthen our energy independence in a way that protects our environment and lifestyle for future generations.
Three solar installation companies worked on our Solarize programs.
Southern Energy Management (SEM) of Morrisville is one of the most highly qualified solar design and installation teams in the country.
Yes Solar Solutions of Cary is one of North Carolina’s leading residential solar installation companies. In June 2013, Yes became the first solar installer on the East Coast to earn Company Accreditation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
RED Group of Lewisville specializes in residential and commercial solar and battery installation.