By Ryan Kennedy
A coalition of solar advocates have filed with the North Carolina Court of Appeals, contending that state laws were violated when state utility regulators approved Duke Energy’s rate plan to make cuts to compensation for exporting rooftop solar generation.
The approval of electric utility Duke Energy’s plan is the latest in a nation-wide push by utilities to quash net energy metering (NEM), the billing process in which homeowners are compensated for delivering local, clean electricity to the grid.
The coalition argued that state regulators violated House Bill 589, passed in 2017, which mandates the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to perform a cost-benefit analysis of solar net metering.
Under Duke’s plan, which was enacted on October 1, net metering credit rates are cut from a value ranging from $0.05 per kWh to $0.20 per kWh to a low rate of only $0.03 per kWh. This damages the value of rooftop solar for North Carolina residents, making it harder for them to invest in emissions-free electricity generation, despite state goals to boost clean energy access.
The rate case also enforces minimum bills on solar customers of $22 to $28 per month, even if 100% of their electricity demand is met by their own solar array’s production.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, and the bill’s author, former Republican House member John Szoka, publicly agreed that independent analysis conducted by NCUC is not only legally mandated, but also essential to a comprehensive assessment of the ratemaking change.