After months of stakeholder meetings, environmental groups were kicked out of a process that led to the drafting of a bill that will limit rather than promote solar competition. House Bill 589, touted by sponsors as a “consensus bill,” was rolled out late Monday after behind-the-scenes negotiations and is fast-tracked for approval with little time for input from concerned constituents. If the bill is so great, why isn’t it open to debate or amendment?
The bill is not clearly beneficial for either customers or the solar industry. It could actually be harmful to the growth of solar in the state due to the countless limitations it places on rooftop and large-scale projects.
NC WARN cannot support a bill that leaves so many factors unknown, including potentially raising fees on rooftop solar customers participating in net metering. In addition, this bill allows Duke Energy to have its fingers in all the pies – solar leasing, solar farms, community solar. All the provisions that lawmakers are promoting as beneficial could be controlled by Duke Energy – limiting rather than promoting solar competition.
The breakdown of fair process has led to backroom dealing, producing a bill that is confusing enough to appear positive for the public while actually limiting solar options in North Carolina.
How can anybody have confidence in a bill blasted out from behind closed doors?
Some elements of HB 589 that are concerning:
- Opens the door for Duke Energy to attack net metering for rooftop solar customers, including adding fees or changing rates;
- Adds a limited solar leasing program at the expense of prohibiting third party sales (other parties selling solar power directly to customers);
- Allows Duke Energy to compete with solar companies on building large-scale installations while offering less favorable contract terms; and
- Establishes a community solar program completely controlled by Duke Energy.