By Grant Smith
Duke Energy is asking North Carolina utility regulators to approve a plan that could stifle the growth of renewable solar power in the state while hiking ratepayers’ bills – the latest in the monopoly utility’s almost decade-long fight against clean energy in the state.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission, or NCUC, is reviewing Duke’s proposed new rooftop solar program. It’s based on an energy tariff settlement – more like a rush to judgment – that Duke’s monopoly utility subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress signed in November with solar industry associations and solar advocacy organizations.
If adopted, the program would reduce the value of solar for customers by 30 percent or more. That’s why EWG and others are pushing back against this plot to halt clean energy.
Three solar installers, which broke with their trade associations, and utility expert Bill Powers, commissioned by ratepayer advocacy NC WARN and the groups North Carolina Climate Solutions Coalition and Sunrise Movement Durham Hub, all oppose the plan.
EWG, along with advocacy organizations 350 Triangle, 350 Charlotte, and North Carolina Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live, also filed comments against the plan.
EWG also commissioned utility expert Karl Rábago to file comments on the best approach to assessing the costs and benefits of customer-owned, rooftop solar.