NC WARN challenges the Duke monopoly claim that captive, low-income Carolinians must pay more for dirty power plants while others add rooftop solar
Statement by Executive Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – A number of U.S. utilities have been trying to stop the growth of rooftop solar electricity by claiming it hurts low- and fixed-income customers and people of color. Such solar-bashing has been thoroughly discredited, but now Duke Energy lobbyists and other hired guns are spreading it among African-American community leaders and among legislative Democrats.
NC WARN today begins an effort to expose this cynical corporate effort to divide people, including circulation of a new Issue Brief to elected officials, the news media and community leaders.*
We’re in good company. Just a week ago, the national NAACP board of directors publicized a new resolution supporting clean energy.** Solar-smearing efforts have also been recently rebuffed by the Congressional Black Caucus and various state chapters of the NAACP. These groups agree that solar power helps communities of color for many reasons.
We urge news reporters to ask Duke Energy how many people they pay to spread the anti-solar message on historically black university campuses, at churches and to elected officials.
The Duke claim – hoisted in Raleigh recently by NC president Paul Newton – is that, as more customers put solar panels on rooftops, other customers are left to pay more than “their share” for Duke Energy’s large, expensive power plants.
But only because Duke is a protected monopoly can it try to force captive customers to pay a higher price for a product – polluting power – that others choose to replace with solar. It is grossly unfair to force customers, instead of corporate stockholders, to pay for poor decisions to build giant, expensive power plants as the national market swings toward cheaper, safer energy generated right at the home and workplace.
Among other key counter-points in NC WARN’s issue brief:
Every new rooftop solar system helps all customers by reducing Duke Energy’s case to keep building expensive power plants we don’t need and continually raising rates. Solar power provides energy during times of high demand – the hottest hours of the day – eliminating Duke’s argument for building more plants.
If Duke Energy cared about low-income customers, it would stop opposing competition, such as “third party sales” by companies who install solar on homes for no-money-down, then share the savings with customers. Solar companies with strong financial backing want to sell power to customers in the Carolinas for no up-front cost, but have been blocked by monopoly rules forcing businesses, homes, and others to buy power only from Duke Energy.
Other ways that solar power benefits all customers include: creating good local jobs, reducing pollution and water usage, helping slow climate disruption, cutting costly fossil fuel imports, and reducing the risks of widespread power outages.
Even the electric industry’s trade group says the real problem for monopoly utilities is years of falling demand and falling profits as more customers rely less on giant, expensive power plants.
If Duke Energy executives cared about the low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes, they would eliminate punitive deposits and penalties for cut-offs and reconnection. They would stop targeting rural and low-income communities with dangerous power plants and coal ash dumps. They would stop rigging rates by shifting costs from the richest corporations onto families. They would stop trying to stick customers with billions in advance for construction of nuclear power plants that are unlikely to ever be completed. They would stop opposing clean energy advances in North Carolina that have already added thousands of jobs.
“Truth: Rooftop Solar Capacity Benefits All Ratepayers” — Renewable Energy World.com