September 14, 2021

Utility Rebates Helping Nonprofits

What do the New England Journal of Medicine and Eagle Solar & Light Have in Common?

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has powerfully stepped into the Climate Change crisis and will hopefully make the impacts of Climate Change relevant to everyone, thanks to its editorial, Call for Emergency Action to Limit Global Temperature Increases, Restore Biodiversity, and Protect Health. As an environmental planner who has worked to protect the planet since 1990, and as a person who was concerned about planetary preservation all the way back to 1974 when I was eight years old and began lobbying my parents, I see the NEJM health statement as critical to bringing unity and action to address the Climate Change crisis.

Impacts to human health are occurring, they are catastrophic for many and they will only grow for decades. Unfortunately, those who are most marginalized and contribute the least to the crisis will experience overly large health and community impacts due to Climate Change. I am very proud to work with Eagle Solar & Light in North Carolina to bring renewable energy and climate resilience to the underserved communities who are most impacted.

The Duke Energy Solar Rebate is an important incentive that allows North Carolina’s nonprofit communities obtain solar installations, reduce their energy bills and redirect their funds to more important parts of their missions. That rebate, combined with Eagle Solar & Light’s leasing program, negates the need for a large capital outlay. Some nonprofits may choose to make a cash purchase because of the availability of donor funds, while others often pursue the solar lease because it may make more financial sense to finance the investment. With the potential for future Duke Energy utility rate increases (needed to offset coal ash pond cleanup and grid modernization), solar-produced kilowatt hours become more valuable over time as compared with the utility kilowatt cost.  Additionally, Eagle Solar & Light includes the cost of Operations and Maintenance with the lease cost, making the solar installation and operation virtually worry-free.

As an environmental advocate for pretty much my entire life, the solar part of my work has been the most rewarding. I have been fortunate to meet amazing people in the nonprofit community who are serving in areas beyond my experience. They are making tremendous differences every day, helping me to think bigger and to grow my optimism. Some have been helping underserved communities for decades, and if I can help them improve their operating budgets… I can’t think of a better way to spend a day in the office.

And that Duke Energy Solar Rebate that I mentioned previously – the maximum nonprofit rebate of $75,000 far and away exceeds the maximum rebate for the commercial sector ($30,000) and the residential sector ($6,000). The commercial and residential sectors understand the power of the solar rebate, claiming all of it in under three minutes during the final Duke Energy first come, first served solar rebate application window in 2020. Because of that overwhelming demand, Duke Energy moved to a twice a year lottery system in 2021. Unfortunately, year after year the nonprofit sector does not fully utilize their rebate allocation, and the allocation snowballs into the next calendar year’s allocation. If the nonprofit solar rebate allotment is not fully claimed by the end of 2022, it will be made available to the commercial and residential sectors in January 2023 for the final solar rebate opportunity. There is no expectation that the General Assembly will mandate this Rebate again.

I am hoping that if you know of a North Carolina nonprofit that could benefit from solar energy that you will forward this blog post to them. Solar Energy can be an easy decision – the financials either make sense or they don’t – and it is Eagle Solar & Light’s goal for the incentives to benefit nonprofits immediately.

Laura Combs is Eagle Solar & Light’s Business Development Director in North Carolina. She has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, with a specialty in Environmental Planning. Laura is a former government and non-profit employee who worked to recover the endangered Florida manatee. She is very aware of the need for maintaining slim overhead and maximizing funds, and she is grateful for the opportunity to help protect the planet while helping people to reduce their carbon footprint and utility bills via solar energy installation.

Learn more about this story here. 

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