Duke Energy keeps trying to undermine our rooftop solar industry by attacking net energy metering (NEM) – the rules for how solar customers are compensated for excess power they send to the grid.
Delayed by strong opposition to net metering changes to homes, Duke quietly submitted changes to nonresidential net metering (that would affect businesses and nonprofits) in its voluminous rate-increase docket.
In May NC WARN led over 70 solar companies and nonprofits joining calling for Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein to step in and prevent Duke from harming our growing solar industry in this time of climate urgency
This was the second wave of protest against Duke’s proposed net metering changes; nearly 60 nonprofits opposed the plan Duke submitted to the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) in November 2021 that would affect residential customers. Most of the state’s solar companies joined us then in opposing Duke’s new rules.
Part of NCUC’s approval called for Duke Energy to produce an online calculator to allow solar installers to estimate prospective customers’ benefits under the upcoming new rules. But in June NC WARN exposed that even this calculator is grossly incomplete.
Duke’s plan would make rooftop solar:
🌞 more complicated
🌞 a weaker investment for all
🌞 even less accessible for low- to moderate-income households and
🌞 harder for solar companies to sell
Solutions like rooftop solar and battery storage are cheaper and more reliable than new fracked gas-burning power plants. But Duke is putting the brakes on solar so it can earn billions by building lots of new gas plants, even as the UN Secretary General has said, “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
Read more below and see how you can help save rooftop solar.
“We’ve had enough of Duke Energy’s injustices. We’re calling for a just system where solar power can equitably benefit all North Carolinians. We’re tired of communities of color and low incomes getting nothing from Duke Energy but its coal ash and dirty power generation.”
Watch our 30-second TV/online ad below
Check out the print ad, too
- Rooftop-Solar Justice report (CBD)
- Key Points of Duke's plan for homes
- NCUC Order Approving Duke Plan
- Appeal to NC Court of Appeals
- 17 Solar Companies Appeal to Governor Cooper
- 59 Groups Oppose Duke Proposal
- 70 Organizations Oppose Nonresidential Changes
- Organizations: Add Your Support!
- Save NC Solar flyer
- Duke's Residential NEM Petition
- Duke Energy's Distortions (news release)
- Other NC WARN News Releases on NEM
- NC WARN's Legal Filings
- All Legal Arguments on Duke Plan at NCUC
- 2014/15 Duke Hates Solar Campaign
- Duke's Smart Thermostat Petition to NCUC
Attack on Residential Solar
In September 2020, Duke Energy and some other organizations agreed to support a complicated proposal for revising net metering rules in both South and North Carolina. The plan was adopted by the SC Public Service Commission and later by the NC Utilities Commission. NC WARN and others are appealing the NC decision. This opposition is led by the Save NC Solar coalition (350 Triangle, 350 Charlotte, the NC Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live, Sunrise Durham, Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, Climate Reality Project Charlotte, Environmental Working Group, NC WARN and the West End Revitalization Association).
Duke’s proposal would replace the current, straightforward net metering rules with an arrangement that would make rooftop solar vastly more confusing and even less accessible than it is now for low- to moderate-income people.
Solar homeowners would get the most credit for electricity they feed onto the grid during times when little solar power is produced. Duke’s plan would institute a minimum monthly bill of up to $28 for homes adding solar, and would lower the price paid for their excess power by up to two-thirds from the current retail rate.
Following a rigged “stakeholder process” that essentially rubber-stamped Duke’s NEM scheme, Appalachian Voices and NC WARN filed a complaint and called for an open, independent study on the value of solar.
Duke’s plan hinges on the disproven claim that existing net metering shifts costs onto non-solar customers – part of a decade-long utility attack on rooftop solar that’s currently being fought in California, Florida and elsewhere.
In fact, studies show that net metering provides a benefit to non-solar customers by adding low-cost power to the grid, particularly during periods of peak demand.
Duke claims consensus support for its proposal, but nearly 60 nonprofits have registered their opposition.
And 17 solar companies signed a letter to Governor Roy Cooper asking for his support in stopping Duke’s proposal.
Those groups then weighed in at the NCUC to save rooftop solar. Read all their legal arguments here. Over 3,000 members of the public, many of them solar customers, submitted comments, too.
Attack on Nonresidential Solar
A comparable attack by Duke on solar rules for businesses and nonprofits was expected, but almost went unnoticed. Duke buried those proposed changes in its enormous rate-increase proposal at the NCUC.
If approved, the changes would require new nonresidential solar customers to go on complicated time-of-use plans, which would also apply to existing customers after 2033.
NC WARN and others will intervene in the rate case to oppose these changes.
Duke Should Promote Solar, Not Block It
Solar power needs to be a system-wide, shared investment for all homes and businesses that is facilitated (not blocked) by our electric utility – just as Duke Energy now forces us all to “share” the costs and damage for its dirty and dangerous coal and gas plants.
Check out NC Clean Path 2025 to see how a system-wide approach to solar and storage could decarbonize the NC electric grid.
Nothing New Under the Sun
All of this is no surprise. Duke Energy has been in the solar-crushing business at least since our 2014 Duke Hates Solar campaign.
This 2015 op-ed by Rev. Nelson Johnson and NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren scolded Duke Energy for misleading Black leaders on solar. The satirical ad below explained Duke’s attitude toward rooftop solar — which continues to this day.
With their new carbon plan, Duke Energy leaders remain on a rate-hiking, climate- and community-wrecking track for North Carolina. The solar they propose would be built many years from now – if ever – and too late to help the climate crisis. SEE ALL Net Metering POSTS
NC WARN also redoubles call for Governor, Attorney General to demand transparency in utility’s two-pronged attack on local solar, as “customer calculator” remains a failure Unable to openly justify a major rule change for solar used by businesses, faith groups, schools and nonprofits, Duke Energy buried its proposal under thousands …SEE ALL Net Metering POSTS