third party solar

Solar Battle Continues In North Carolina As Nonprofit Fights Duke Energy

Read time: 7 mins

In one of the remaining four states that explicitly ban third-party solar sales, a small nonprofit is continuing its fight against the nation’s biggest utility over the right to sell solar power to churches and other nonprofits without the utility’s involvement.

North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), a 28-year-old environmental nonprofit with an annual budget of around $1.1 million, is fighting Duke Energy, a massive energy company that raked in $23.5 billion in revenue in 2015 and is valued at $54.4 billion.

Last year, the nonprofit wanted to clarify state law regarding third-party sales, so it picked a fight with the utility Goliath to spark a test case. NC WARN installed solar panels on the roof of a Greensboro church for free and started selling the energy back to the church at significantly lower rates than Duke Energy would charge. In typical power purchase agreements, customers pay the owner of the solar array less per watt than they’d have to pay a utility company, making residential solar more affordable and thus more accessible for customers.

The energy giant’s lost profits from NC WARN’s arrangement with Faith Community Church are minuscule, yet Duke Energy asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission last October to fine NC WARN up to $1,000 per day for selling energy to the church. At that time, it would have cost the nonprofit as much as $120,000.

On April 15, the utilities commission fined NC WARN $200 per day, amounting to roughly $60,000, and the nonprofit suspended its sales of solar electricity to the non-denominational, largely African-American church pending an appeal.

Florida Rooftop Solar Advocates Challenge Deceptive Anti-Solar Campaign In State Supreme Court

Read time: 7 mins

The Sunshine State didn’t get its name for nothing: Florida ranks third nationally in rooftop solar energy potential. But thanks to restrictive laws supported by the state’s powerful utility monopolies, the country’s third most populous state is only fourteenth in installed solar capacity.
 
Florida is one of only four states that bar third-party solar financing, when non-utility companies install solar panels on the roofs of homes and businesses at little or no upfront cost, sometimes selling the energy generated back to the customer.
 
A battle in Florida is well underway between Big Energy and clean-energy advocates. The current conflict began when a coalition called Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) proposed a ballot measure to legalize third-party solar agreements. FSC is an unlikely alliance of Tea Party activists and environmentalists, Libertarians, Republicans, a Christian coalition, and business groups.

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