RALEIGH, N.C. | March 26, 2015 — North Carolina utilities including Duke Energy Carolinas and Dominion North Carolina Power have laced a well-intentioned North Carolina solar bill with a poison pill that would unravel the fundamental solar policy net metering.
Publicly, the utilities are opposing the bill to prevent the innovative third-party-owned solar business model from taking off in the state. At the same time, behind the scenes they have slipped in language that would pave the way for stifling the solar market if the bill passes.
Net metering, the policy that gives solar customers full, fair credit for their excess solar energy, is critical to energy choice and competition. Utilities don’t like it because they want to get rid of the competitive solar market. If passed, the “Energy Freedom Act” HB 245 would give the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) the authority to approve a separate, discriminatory tariff for net metering customers. A separate tariff paves the way for stripping Tar Heels of the credit they deserve for investing in solar for their own roofs. The bill would also allow utilities to create a separate rate class for rooftop solar customers, a vehicle for solar taxes.
“This bill has a hidden poison pill that would undermine the solar industry,” said TUSK Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. “The state Legislature should recognize this utility deception and strike the anti-solar language.”
Solar choice and competition are the conservative way, and should remain the North Carolina way. Utilities have launched attacks across the country to stomp out competition from rooftop solar, and North Carolina is just the latest example. Don’t be fooled by the utilities’ tricks.
This may put a bump in the road to solar, but a large pothole for the utilities down the road, on their quest for the cheapest, dirtiest fuels for generating electric power. Where these profit driven, anti solar policies are put in place, the solar customer has only to add a battery to their system, and those loads are forever lost to the utility.
If the solar customer’s equipment has no interconnection to the utility, the utility has no right to make them pay extra charges. If allowed to charge extra to just own a PV system, the utilities will next want to charge for skylights, or sunlight itself, because it, like solar PV, offsets the the power you buy from them.
If the policy future is uncertain, just go for the batteries, and you’ll be covered, whatever course policy takes. These solar taxes will only encourage people to defect from the grid, raising everyones rates in the process.
Let’s hope the utility commissions have more sense than to let bad policy be forced on the public for the sake of shareholders pocketbooks.