By John Downey
The N.C. Utilities Commission reached no decision Monday on Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed renewable-energy pilot for large industrial and commercial users, but it is likely to rule soon.
The commission heard arguments on Duke’s Green Source Rider pilot at the regular staff meeting at the commission offices in Raleigh.
According to filings in the case, about a dozen Duke customers could participate in the pilot. The utility limits participation to customers in its largest industrial and commercial class that also have added 1 megawatt of new demand since June 2012.
The proposal grew out an agreement Duke made in April with Google as part of that company’s agreement to expand its data center in Lenoir.
Duke agreed to propose a program that would allow Google and other large customers to contract for energy from solar and other renewable sources at a price based on the renewables’ cost, rather than Duke’s regular utility rates.
Duke wants the rider approved immediately. The commission’s public staff, assigned to protect customer interests, has recommended that the commission approve because Duke assigns the costs of the power to the participating companies. Other customers will not be required to bear additional costs.
But environmental groups NC WARN and the Sierra Club want the commission to expand the program to be available to customers in all classes. And NC WARN has asked for a full evidentiary hearing on the proposal.