Statewide TV, newspaper, on-line ads expose green-washing and Duke Energy’s joining Koch Brothers, ALEC in national kill-solar effort that’s now in North Carolina
Statement by executive director Jim Warren:
DURHAM, NC – Today NC WARN began an intensive statewide public and legal campaign to expose Duke Energy’s efforts to stifle North Carolina’s growing solar power industry at both the rooftop and large-scale levels.
The first hard-hitting, satirical TV ad running on major network affiliates in the Charlotte, Triad and Triangle markets, coupled with newspaper and on-line ads and grassroots action, begin a months-long, multi-stage campaign to inform the statewide public that Duke Energy is seeking to destroy – not encourage – our growing solar power industry.
For years, Duke has gotten away with claiming to support solar power while its official, long-term planning documents prove that all renewables would make up only 3% of its total generation in the Carolinas in 2028. Duke has spent millions to paint its corporate image with a green façade that obscures its efforts to build large fracking-gas, coal and nuclear plants.
At the height of corporate cynicism, Duke Energy has indeed invested $3.5 billion in solar and wind in recent years – very profitably – but almost all of it is in the western US. In the Southeast, Duke has used its monopoly control to do the bare minimum with renewables.
Now, NC WARN is exposing Duke’s active – but heretofore quiet – efforts to squash one of the few sectors of the state economy that have consistently grown in recent years.
The solar industry’s NC trade association recently referred to Duke’s attempts to “destroy an industry that is thriving in North Carolina … attacking net metering and rooftop solar to protect their bottom line and monopoly control,” and Duke’s “efforts to undermine the success of solar energy.”
On Wednesday, NC WARN will hold a press teleconference at 11am to discuss the “Duke Hates Solar” campaign and upcoming hearings at the NC Utilities Commission. The teleconference will include both a solar industry leader and a regulatory expert who helped other states fend off efforts to destroy the solar industry. (Details to follow)
NC WARN today is releasing a white paper detailing our “Duke Hates Solar” charges.*
Rooftop and large-scale solar companies tell NC WARN that Duke’s actions at both levels clearly seem designed to create doubt among customers and investors and to stall new installations until the state renewable tax credit expires at the end of 2015.
Solar photovoltaic power is now cheaper than kilowatt-hours from newly-constructed dirty power plants when all costs are considered. At a July 7th utilities commission hearing on large-scale solar, Duke witnesses will argue that regulators should continue to disregard coal ash clean-ups, climate destruction and other externalized costs when comparing dirty power to solar and wind.
Although recent headlines imply a green Duke Energy, details show that a large, newly announced solar project in northeastern NC will help neither this state’s customers nor solar industry because Duke will sell the juice to the Washington, DC area, which has a competitive electricity market.
As the rapid growth of solar power challenges coal, gas and nuclear plants, the Koch Brothers, ALEC and dinosaur power utilities are pushing to kill the US solar industry. In other states they have largely failed so far, but nonetheless have harmed the industry.
Duke Execs – Solar Assassins
While many Duke employees want to join the national clean energy revolution, its old-guard, monopoly-spoiled executives are trying to snuff solar in three key ways:
- with the large-scale solar industry, by arguing against a fair price for power from large generation projects and by ramping up red tape and fees.
- seeking to cut the amount credited to rooftop solar-owners who put excess electricity onto the grid for others to use (called net metering).
- by blocking “third-party” solar sales – growing fast in other states – that allow companies to install rooftop solar at no up-front cost to the customer, then share the savings.
Rooftop and large-scale solar companies have grown in North Carolina – adding thousands of jobs and other economic benefits – in spite of Duke Energy’s efforts. Every new solar panel helps all customers by reducing Duke’s case to keep raising rates to build power plants we don’t need.
Polling shows that North Carolinians strongly support the shift to climate-protecting renewable energy. If the Duke Energy dinosaur continues lumbering along with a 20th Century business plan, it faces the very real chance of losing its monopoly control over the North Carolina electricity market.
* The white paper can be found at www.ncwarn.org or sent to reporters upon request.