CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy has filed an agreement with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) that the company says will “align solar adopter compensation to utility system benefits and create long-term stability for the residential solar industry in North Carolina,” in a statement.
The next steps for the agreement, which was crafted by Duke Energy and the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association with participation from the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Vote Solar and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy as well as Sunrun Inc. and the Solar Energy Industries Association, is that it must be approved by the NCUC in order to go into effect.
“Duke Energy is committed to finding collaborative paths forward to help with the clean-energy transition and carbon-reduction goals in the Carolinas.” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, in the statement. “This deal ensures fair and reasonable treatment for all customers whether they choose to install solar or not.”
According to the utility, some 24,000 customers in North Carolina have installed private solar systems. In 2018, there were 6,000, the company shared.
North Carolina recently ranked third in the nation for the growth of solar energy.
“This program pushes forward progress in North Carolina’s clean energy economy,” said Peter Ledford, general counsel and director of policy at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. “Not only does it advance the residential solar sector, it also provides a framework and agreement to work collaboratively on the next generation of nonresidential net metering.”
According to Ledford, the proposed agreement will establish new price signals, and it will provide additional opportunities for homeowners to invest in technologies like smart thermostats and battery storage using solar energy.
According to Duke Energy, the filing will enable new net metering tariffs to go into effect for customers who submit applications on or after Jan. 1, 2023. The agreement also includes varied retail rates based on peak demand and time of day, according to Duke Energy.
“We believe that it is important to provide a fair valuation of distributed energy resources,” said Bryan Jacob, solar program director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Those customers who provide services to the grid with their private investments should be fairly compensated for those services. At the same time, it is important that rates be designed to align customer behavior with controlling utility costs when possible.”
Solar power must play a role in North Carolina’s economy, said Lindsey Hallock, southeast senior regional director at Vote Solar.
“The inclusion of a low-income solar program to be designed with input from stakeholders will bring the voices of low-income customers to the table, remove prohibitive cost barriers and unlock the benefits of solar for more North Carolinians,” said Hallock. “I’m hopeful that this promising step is one of many toward a 100% renewable energy future for the Carolinas, and that Duke Energy continues to invest heavily in clean energy sources and support for low-income households.”