Duke’s solar announcement today is a good step. But it’s the ONLY step Duke plans to make toward renewables for its Carolinas customers – according to its newly filed long-range plans – over the next 15 years. Meanwhile, Duke is actively working to stifle the growth of large-scale and rooftop solar in NC – in the ongoing case at the Utilities Commission.
Duke Energy is making a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina. The company will acquire and construct three solar facilities — totaling 128 megawatts of capacity. Duke also signed power-purchase agreements for five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 megawatts of capacity.
Attorney General Roy Copper’s office along with the environmental group North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, or NC WARN say Duke is charging homeowners too much, and super consumers like server farms and factories too little.
The NC Supreme Court is hearing two Duke Energy rate cases Monday beginning at 9:30 am. NC WARN and Attorney General Roy Cooper appealed the Utilities Commission’s order in both cases granting the rate increases.
Rather than owning the mistake, McCrory issued a defensive statement and said he broke no rules. In May, a spokesman pointed to the now-discredited disclosure report and said it “eliminates the often repeated, ridiculous and false, partisan left-wing attacks challenging the intent of our decisions and policies.” That reminds one of Hillary Clinton dismissing probes into her husband as just a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
North Carolina regulators should follow the lead of other states in prohibiting electric utilities from requiring up-front deposits from new customers.
In the span of five years, the solar industry in North Carolina has grown from nearly non-existent to fourth-largest in the nation, behind California, Arizona, and New Jersey. The pace is accelerating, with solar capacity set to more than double in the state, at least this year. The state’s powerful electric utilities are pushing changes that could blot out the industry in North Carolina.
In a proceeding that could boost or dampen North Carolina’s fast-growing solar industry, the N.C. Utilities Commission is taking a new look at the rates utilities pay for renewable energy.
Jim Warren, executive director of the advocacy group NC WARN, said he sympathizes with Rogers’ push for a greener future but adds that North Carolina, where Duke is still dominated by fossil fuels, has little to show for his efforts. Duke is currently 41 percent coal, 33 percent nuclear, 24 percent gas, and 2 percent hydropower and solar energy.
Duke Energy still wants to pay less to the owners of rooftop solar power systems from whom it buys electricity to feed back into its grid. But the utility provider won’t say until later this year how much less and when.
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