North Carolina Schools, Hospitals and Businesses Ready to go Solar with Secure Futures

Secure Futures school solar
Secure Futures now offers commercial-scale solar in North Carolina | Huguenot High School, Richmond, VA

Secure Futures is one of 4 solar providers authorized to offer distributed solar energy with no upfront capital costs in North Carolina.

Secure Futures Solar is now approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission to offer on-site solar with no capital cost to commercial customers around the state. This will allow schools, hospitals, local governments, and businesses to install solar power more affordably.

Secure Futures is one of only four Regulated Electric Generator Lessors approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission to install on-site solar panels without the customer having to buy solar panels and other equipment themselves.

Here’s how it works: Secure Futures would install solar panels on a customer’s location and then own and operate the equipment over a period of 20 years or more on behalf of the customer, providing all the services needed to self-generate electricity under Secure Futures’ trademarked Solar Self-Generation Agreement (Solar SGA®).

Solar Self-Generation Agreement (SGA®)

“Leasing doesn’t allow non-taxable schools and hospitals to benefit from the federal solar investment tax credit, currently set at 26 percent,” says Ryan McAllister, Business Development Manager for Secure Futures. “Even for companies that can use the tax credit, a lease adds debt to their books that can make it harder for them to access financing for their core business needs.”

The Solar SGA® from Secure Futures addresses these challenges. Unlike traditional leasing agreements, the SGA® allows Secure Futures to pass along savings from the Investment Tax Credit to tax-exempt customers. And as a performance-based service contract, this does not constitute debt on a solar customer’s balance sheet.

Secure Futures solar installation
Through a Solar Self-Generation Agreement, Secure Futures owns, operates and maintains on-site solar panels for no upfront costs | Carilion NRV Medical Center, Roanoke, VA

How do North Carolina schools, hospitals, and businesses rank for solar installations?

Nationally, North Carolina currently ranks second for solar power by state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Associaton. However, unlike other leading solar states such as California (ranked #1) and Arizona (ranked #3) where many homes and commercial customers have their own solar panels, the vast majority of solar installations in North Carolina are owned and operated by electric utilities, according to other SEIA data.

This means that most of North Carolina’s solar energy comes from utility “solar farms,” which provides a large output of solar power but can lead to land degradation of viable forests and farms.

As a B-Corp company, Secure Futures puts solar panels in areas unsuitable for wildlife habitat or forests — mostly building rooftops but also parking lots and parking decks. We turn unused rooftops from liabilities into energy-generating assets. When we install ground-mounted solar arrays, we focus on brownfields or sites that cannot serve a future purpose in hosting buildings or parking, such as steep hillsides.

solar farm north carolina
Secure Futures installs on-site solar panels on rooftops or brownfields, hillsides or otherwise unusable land. North Carolina currently ranks second nationally for overall solar installation, but falls far behind other states for rooftop solar installation.

“The main barrier to commercial electricity customers going solar has been high upfront cost,” said Secure Futures’s McAllister. “Having to buy your own solar panels and then maintain them yourself was too expensive for most schools, hospitals or businesses.”

Third-party ownership of solar panels is quickly expanding solar power in the commercial sector across the U.S. Accounting for 53% of commercial solar installations in 2019, third-party ownership could rise to encompass 78% of commercial solar by 2021 according to a report by industry analyst GTM Research.

For schools and hospitals in North Carolina, a targeted incentive from Duke Energy of $0.75 makes solar power for non-taxable organizations even more affordable.

Secure Futures was the first to offer commercial solar with no capital cost in neighboring Virginia beginning in 2011. Since then, Secure Futures has installed more than 20 megawatts of commercial solar at schools, hospitals, and businesses in Virginia, and will provide third-party solar benefits to North Carolina in 2020 and beyond.

North Carolina Solar Offerings

Written by: Erik Curren