By Danielle Battaglia
A North Carolina advocacy group argued before the N.C. Court of Appeals Thursday that it should be allowed to sell solar energy to a church in Greensboro.
The court allowed oral arguments to be offered after the N.C. Utilities Commission banned NC WARN, an advocacy group, from selling energy to Faith Community Church.
“Duke Energy claims we knowingly violated the law,” said Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN. “We’re making a strong legal argument that the law does allow us to do what we’re doing.”
In June 2015, NC WARN installed solar panels at Faith Community Church, located on Arlington Street, and sent the church bills for the energy produced.
The N.C. Utilities Commission ruled that NC WARN violated state law that reserves the right to sell electricity to Duke Energy and other regulatory agencies.
“This is a case where NC WARN is basically trying to set themselves up as a utility to sell energy to the church using solar panels on the roof,” said Randy Wheeless, spokesman for Duke Energy. “The Utilities Commission felt that was NC WARN setting up as a public utility but not wanting to follow the rules and regulations of being a public utility.”
Wheeless said the rules and regulations guide utility companies on how much they can charge customers, customers’ rights and to whom a person could complain if the utility company does something a customer feels is inappropriate.
The commission fined the advocacy group $200 per day that NC WARN provided energy to the church, which equaled $60,000. The fine is temporarily suspended, pending the appeals court’s decision.
The commission ruled that if NC WARN were to donate the solar panel equipment to the church and give the church a refund with 10 percent interest for money the group charged, the fine would be lifted.