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.