After the solar power kicked on in June, our friends at the Faith Community Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, were thrilled be to saving money by generating their own clean energy from newly installed rooftop solar panels. But just months later, the very company that connected them to the grid, turned this clean clean energy success into a murky scenario.
The North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN) had worked on this solar installment, known as the Solar Freedom Project, in collaboration with the Faith Community Church for some time. The eventual success of the project was strongly aligned with NC WARN’s mission, which includes “tackling the climate crisis – and other hazards posed by electricity generation” – and allowed the church to save money, which they could direct towards their work in the Greensboro community.
Just five months after the Solar Freedom Project was complete, Duke Energy, the nation’s largest and most polluting utility, stepped in. They reacted aggressively to the project – which they hooked up to the grid – demanding fines of $1,000 per day that the solar array was in operation. This outrageous attack on clean energy equates to more than $120,000 in fines, and would cripple the local non-profit group.
Duke Energy claims this project violates the rulings in North Carolina, which state that energy cannot be purchased through third-party sales. This means energy can only be purchased from a regulated energy utility – such as Duke Energy. There are just five states which have these rules, and Duke Energy has been fighting to keep it that way.
The Church’s Reverend Nelson Johnson stated, “We are happy to engage in this partnership that can help leverage solar power’s savings and jobs to more communities – while reducing the effects of Duke Energy’s monopoly control that has such negative impacts on power bills, clean air and water, and climate change.” While the conversation is still underway, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) is reviewing the plea from NC WARN to have oral hearings to support this affordable clean power source.
This is just one of many cases in which large-scale utility companies are enacting David vs Goliath lawsuits to try and prevent the inevitable transition to a clean energy future. Learn more about the issue of large-scale utility monopolies, here.
Tell the North Carolina Attorney General that Duke Energy needs to cut it out and support the fight against climate change, not make it worse, here.