Key takeaways


orth Carolina has always been a big player in America's renewable energy game, ranking 4th in the U.S. for solar installations. However, a recent legal dispute has cast a shadow over the state’s solar-friendly reputation. A united front of clean energy advocates and environmental groups filed an appeal to challenge North Carolina’s recent cutbacks on financial incentives for residential solar owners.

Solar cell technique harnesses sunlight to generate electricity. It involves the use of photovoltaic materials to convert solar energy into usable power.

The Crux of the Controversy

Duke Energy, the state’s main electricity provider, has been pushing to reduce the compensation given to homeowners who feed surplus solar energy back to the grid, a mechanism known as "net metering." In early October, the company proposed a new rate plan that would significantly reduce net metering credits. Duke's new pricing took the rate paid to homeowners for this extra energy from a range of 5-20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) down to just 3 cents, making the idea of installing rooftop solar panels way less financially attractive.

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Legal Arguments in Play

Now, the interesting part is that North Carolina's House Bill 589, enacted in 2017, explicitly directs the state's Utilities Commission to perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis of solar net metering. However, critics claim that the Commission approved Duke Energy’s rate plan based primarily on the utility’s own in-house calculations, which they argue largely ignore the broader benefits of solar energy to society.

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A coalition of clean energy advocates, —which includes names like the Environmental Working Group, Sunrise Durham, and NC Warn, alongside individual citizens— have taken legal action. They say the state's decision-makers violated North Carolina legislation, which insists on a balanced evaluation before making such drastic changes to net metering rules.

What’s Next?

While the legal proceedings are still unfolding, the tension between utilities and renewable energy supporters is palpable. Given that California, a leader in the U.S. solar arena, has already made similar reductions to solar incentives, there's a concern that solar adoption could face setbacks nationwide. Right now, all attention is on the North Carolina courts, as it prepares to make a decision that could either propel or slow down America's shift to clean energy.

Massachusetts residents rejoice as solar net metering receives a significant boost in the Bay State. Our comprehensive guide to Solar Net Metering Gets a Boost in Massachusetts explores the latest developments in net metering policies, offering valuable insights for homeowners and businesses looking to maximize the benefits of solar energy.

Watch This Video for The Latest News on North Carolina's Net Metering Program


Key takeaways

North Carolina, 4th in the U.S. for solar installations, faces a legal battle over recent net metering reductions.

Duke Energy proposed a new rate plan, slashing net metering credits for surplus solar energy from 5-20 cents per kWh to just 3 cents.

House Bill 589 mandated a cost-benefit analysis, but critics argue that the approved plan relied on utility-calculated metrics, neglecting broader solar benefits.

A coalition, including the Environmental Working Group and NC Warn, challenges the decision, claiming a violation of legislation.

Similar reductions in California raise concerns about a potential nationwide setback for solar adoption.

The outcome in North Carolina courts will significantly impact America's clean energy transition.

Nov 27, 2023
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