Energy giant’s attack on rooftop solar hits wall of opposition by 15 solar companies and 53 pro-solar nonprofits
Thursday’s legal challenge and open appeal for NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s protection by North Carolina’s rooftop solar industry is drawing widespread attention to Duke Energy’s attempt to change state rules. Today, NC WARN began rallying support for solar with a statewide ad buy on TV stations and a host of on-line outlets.
The 30-second video ad challenges Duke’s efforts “to choke our growing solar industry” so that it can build 50 fracked-gas power units and keep raising electricity rates. NC WARN and 52 allied nonprofits want Cooper to use his clout to stop Duke Energy from beating down renewable power, thus staying true to his efforts to slow the climate crisis.
The 15 solar companies told Cooper in an open letter that Duke Energy’s plan would reduce the value of solar production by 25-35% for the average consumer. The proposal would particularly hamper the ability of low- and middle-income homes to share the benefits of clean, cheap solar power, say NC WARN and other Duke critics.
As Bob Kingery, co-founder of Southern Energy Management, told WFAE radio, Duke’s rules change would be “a big step backward … It doesn’t support continued growth for the rooftop solar industry. And it doesn’t support our goals as a state to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and move renewables and efficiency forward.” He added that Duke’s proposal “… is so complicated that next to nobody could even figure out what solar would really do for their house.”
Stew Miller of Yes Solar Solutions told reporters, “It is obvious Duke is following the playbook that utilities in California and Florida are using to slow the growth of their only competitors … their current ratepayers that want the freedom to generate a portion of their own electricity.”
Those two companies and Sundance Power Systems have mounted a legal challenge to Duke Energy’s proposal by jointly intervening in the regulatory case at the NC Utilities Commission.
Attorney General Josh Stein has joined the controversial docket. NC WARN and several other nonprofits are also parties, including the Environmental Working Group, a national organization that has played a key role in countering utility attacks on rooftop solar in California.
NC WARN director Jim Warren said today: “Winning in the North Carolina case could be pivotal to flipping Duke Energy’s climate-wrecking business model. NC WARN is honored to be in alliance with all these fine solar companies and the 52 pro-energy justice nonprofits.