The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) has filed a motion for disclosure and equitable relief at the North Carolina Utilities Commission, after Duke Energy Corp. officials indicated in January that they will seek to reduce how much North Carolina households are paid for generating electricity from solar panels.
In the motion, NCSEA asserts that Duke Energy Corp.'s recent statements that net metering shifts costs ‘from those who want solar panels to those who do not’ are having a destructive, ‘chilling’ impact on the rooftop solar market in North Carolina.
According to the association, installers responsible for over half of the rooftop solar installations in North Carolina support the motion. In a statement attached to the motion, Jason Epstein, executive vice president and general manager at Baker Renewable Energy, says," Because of how Duke Energy Corporation is messaging without having filed anything definitive at the Utilities Commission, we are not in a position to be as responsive as we would like or to provide the customer service we would like."
Robert Kingery, president of Southern Energy Management, was among others who expressed a similar sentiment." Our sales team has reported that multiple clients are in a holding pattern, having expressed uncertainty and a desire to wait until the dust settles on net metering before making a solar investment."
NCSEA filed a 2013 Crossborder Energy study with the motion. Using data obtained from North Carolina utilities, the study concludes that"North Carolina ratepayers generally would benefit from the continued availability of net metering."
The study also says that, based on the midpoints of the ranges of costs and benefits, the benefits of rooftop solar are 30% greater than the costs. Because the Crossborder Energy study indicates that net metering is more than fair to ratepayers, NCSEA is asking the Utilities Commission to order Duke Energy Corp. to provide the analysis supporting the utility's claims that net metering is unfair.
NCSEA's motion goes on to argue that the negative effect of Duke Energy's statements regarding net metering is particularly damaging because it comes as the window of opportunity to make use of the state tax credit is quickly closing.
"Given Duke Energy Corporation's market dominance, its messaging – timed as it is and in the absence of a filing at the Commission – constitutes a destructive competitive practice that runs counter to state policy and should be redressed," the motion states.