Petition aims to stop Duke Energy’s proposal to gut state’s rooftop solar policies
Today, 1,800 solar panel owners urged Governor Cooper to protect customer-owned energy generation and solar power in North Carolina. Duke Energy, in the Net Energy Metering docket presently before the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), is attempting to not only increase solar customers’ monthly fixed costs with additional fees but also decrease their compensation for the excess solar energy they export to the grid. The excess energy they generate is then sold to their neighbors by Duke Energy at retail rates.
In addition to the 1,800 solar owners asking for the governor’s support, nearly 2,800 individuals have submitted comments to the NCUC in the docket, the overwhelmingly majority opposing Duke’s proposal.
The petition was delivered by Save NC Solar,* a coalition promoting clean energy, climate action and environmental justice. Coalition member Tina Katsanos, representing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, said “Duke Energy states that they are taking this action to protect low-income ratepayers from rising bills due to more affluent solar customers paying less for use of the grid. In reality, North Carolina’s solar customers are not only providing energy for themselves, but also for their neighbors. That solar energy is less expensive for ratepayers, but less profitable for Duke than new fracked gas plants. If Duke really wanted to help low-income customers, they would provide better energy efficiency and community solar programs.”
“Solar owners install energy infrastructure at their own expense and share low-cost excess power with the grid. This should be encouraged, not thwarted,” noted Sally Robertson of NC WARN. “Duke is threatening to slash solar owners’ return on their investment in order to increase its own profits.”
Ziyad Habash of Sunrise Durham added: “It is a climate emergency. Does Governor Cooper recognize that? Attorney General Josh Stein has requested that this matter be resolved only after the Carbon Plan docket is resolved. Does our NC Utilities Commission recognize the crucial role that rooftop solar can play in that plan?”
“Rooftop solar plays a crucial role in our economy,” Karen Bearden of 350 Triangle remarked. “NC is home to over 200 solar companies, including almost 40 manufacturers and twice as many installers. Should we increase that sector of our economy, or export over $2 billion a year for fracked gas and coal?”
“Customer-owned solar could be creating 35% of the energy needs of North Carolina,” noted Cathy Buckley of the NC Alliance to Protect our People and the Places We Live. “In a ranking of rooftop installations per capita per state, NC comes in at number 31. Let us strive to be number 1 – for the sake of our people’s health, our economy, our future.”
* Save NC Solar is a coalition promoting clean energy, climate action and environmental justice. Member organizations include 350 Triangle; 350 Charlotte; Appalachian Voices; Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP; Climate Reality Project, Charlotte Metro Area; Environmental Working Group; NC Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live (NC APPPL); NC WARN; Southern Coalition for Social Justice; Sunrise Movement Durham and the West End Revitalization Association.