It’s the latest chapter in a solar industry saga in which North Carolina soars above other states in many categories of solar deployment linked to large-scale commercial power projects, but paradoxically it lags in dispersing this burgeoning technology onto rooftops throughout its cities and rural areas.
If it [the Energy Freedom Act] becomes law, it would legalize the solar partnership between NC WARN and the Greensboro church without the need for commission approval of the local plan, which is aimed at trailblazing a method of financing that could make solar-energy system affordable for more people.
Faith Community Church and the advocacy group NC WARN unveiled a partnership in which the Durham-based nonprofit has installed solar panels on the African American congregation’s rooftop to produce electricity for sale to the church.
It is curious that Duke Energy is aggressively lobbying against the new Energy Freedom Act, bipartisan state legislation that would open the door to rooftop solar competition, thereby helping the same low-wealth communities for which Duke now professes concern.
Duke Energy officials describe the flaw as a small depression in a welding seam. They say the public was never in danger. Critics aren’t so sure.
“The industry has had this problem for a number of years and they haven’t been able to figure out how to prevent it from occurring,” said Jim Warren, with the nuclear watchdog group NC WARN.
A North Carolina minister and an environmental watchdog have sent a letter to Duke Energy President and CEO Lynn Good, criticizing the utility giant for targeting African-American community leaders as part of its campaign against rooftop solar.
If energy activist Jim Warren has anything to say about it, solar panels one day will grace the rooftops of every suitable house, store, office and factory statewide.
But he and his Solarize NC program are taking it a few cities at a time, and the Greensboro area is next on their agenda.
The N.C. Supreme Court has upheld the most recent Duke Energy Carolinas rate increase, ruling in the last of a spate of challenges to Duke utility rate cases filed by the N.C. Attorney General’s office and advocacy groups….NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren responded that the decision amounts to the court allowing Duke “to continue rigging electricity rates against small customers.”
“This is a statewide problem,” Nick Wood, an organizer for NC Warn, a nonprofit energy-industry watchdog, told a group of people gathered at the volunteer fire department in Moncure on Thursday night to discuss strategy. “We need a statewide solution.”
The state Utilities Commission rejected both proposals and kept the basic framework for solar the same. Legal counsel with NC WARN, John Runkle, says the issue at hand is the real value of solar is not being recognized, and the rules allow Duke Energy to slow-walk contract and interconnection negotiations.
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