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Ministers’ Conference, Elected Leaders Support Solar Competition Bill and Local Solarize Program — News Release from Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem & Vicinity

We at NC WARN are honored to work with these leaders on this important issue.

 

  African American leaders and Clergy say NC’s Energy Freedom Act will help low-income communities and all customers

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – State elected officials and a diverse Ministers’ Conference today announced their support for state legislation that would expand rooftop solar power to more customers across the economic spectrum while boosting investment and jobs across North Carolina.  Their support comes as Duke Energy has been pressing African American civic and state legislators to oppose solar power by using a discredited claim that rooftop solar harms people of color and the poor. Winston Solar Press Conference 4-10-15

At a press conference today in Winston-Salem, the leaders praised the bipartisan Energy Freedom Act (HB245) as well as a grassroots program, Solarize Triad, which is bringing rooftop solar power to local customers through bulk purchasing based on neighbor to neighbor marketing.

Bishop Todd Fulton, President of the Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem & Vicinity, said today: “As faith leaders, we are morally compelled to do all possible at this critical time to create a clean and affordable energy future for North Carolina.”

He pointed out that the Energy Freedom Act would greatly expand rooftop solar power across the economic spectrum because it would allow well-financed companies to install systems with no up-front cost to customers, and then sell power at fixed prices lower than those currently being paid.

NC Senator Paul Lowe said the Energy Freedom Act’s time has come:  “North Carolina needs to explore new options on solar energy for consumers.”  He and other speakers emphasized that the bill would open the way for more clean energy investment and jobs across the state.

Rev. Dianne Horton and NC Representative Ed Hanes also spoke out today in favor of the Energy Freedom Act and the multiple benefits that would result for local economies and the public wellbeing.

Several speakers pointed out that more rooftop solar helps all customers by reducing the need for Duke Energy to keep building power plants and raising rates on customers held captive by outdated monopoly rules.

Luis Aguilera Garcia, a Solarize Triad volunteer, said today that the grassroots campaign coordinated by NC WARN is “part of a statewide campaign that’s making it easier and cheaper for homes, churches and businesses to go solar.”  State and federal tax credits totaling up to 65% are available for 2015, cutting already low solar prices even further.  Triad electricity users can sign up online for a free solar or energy efficiency assessment until April 17.

Energy and climate justice nonprofit NC WARN has long worked with diverse communities and leaders.  Today executive director Jim Warren praised the Ministers Conference and elected officials for standing up at a critical time for clean energy and climate protection: “We are honored to work with the courageous civic leaders willing to speak in favor of the public wellbeing despite the controversy generated by Duke Energy’s opposition to solar competition.”

He said statewide polls show overwhelming support across the political and economic spectrum for clean energy policies, but Duke’s resistance to competition makes it difficult for leaders to emerge.

The national NAACP, several state NAACP chapters and the Congressional Black Caucus have recently rebuffed a national “solar harms the poor” lobbying effort by monopoly utilities.  These groups agree that rooftop solar power helps communities of color for many reasons. Nevertheless, Duke Energy has been spreading its anti-solar message on historically black university campuses, at churches and to elected officials in North Carolina.

 

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