Energy Report

Groups Test Boundaries of N.C. Solar Laws

Date: July 30, 2015

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By Julia Lindsay

In a direct challenge to North Carolina laws governing electricity sales, clean energy group NC WARN financed a 5.2-kilowatt solar project on the roof of Greensboro’s Faith Community Church and plans to sell the energy to the church for about half of Duke Energy’s solar rate.

Duke’s attorney cautioned that the project is prohibited by law, but said the utility would connect the solar array to its grid “in order to not inconvenience” the church. The state is one of four that forbid entities other than regulated monopolies from selling electricity to consumers.

NC WARN asked the state utilities commission to allow their direct sales to help the church sidestep upfront costs. The nonprofit has also backed N.C. House Bill 245, dubbed the Energy Freedom Act, a bipartisan measure that would legalize third party sales, which the organization says stimulate competition and incentivize energy companies to expand their renewables programs.

Duke Energy’s Robert Caldwell told news outlet Utility Dive that Duke welcomes the competition provided that the third parties “pay us what it costs to stay connected to our grid.”

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