Nonprofit NC WARN funded installing solar on the roof of the Greensboro Faith Community Church in 2015 under an arrangement that it would sell the power produced by the system to the church. North Carolina’s monopoly utility Duke Energy didn’t like that much and urged regulators to impose a $60,000 fine against NC WARN, which led to the solar test case that’s now drawing support from national organizations.
“There has never been a more important time to challenge Duke Energy’s control over the benefits we are all provided by the sun. We are glad to stand with NC WARN at the NC Supreme Court,” said Rev. Nelson Johnson, Pastor of Faith Community Church. “Global climate disruption is harming many people right here in North Carolina, and the same is true for Duke Energy’s constant rate increases to pay for more and more fossil fuel power plants that are not needed.”
The organization also agreed to stop selling solar power to the church, giving it free energy while the case is decided. On Nov. 16 The Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal challenge in North Carolina’s Supreme Court to oppose Duke Energy’s efforts to stifle competition from rooftop solar. Other organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, also joined in the appeal.
“In true Goliath fashion, Duke Energy is bullying a community church out of choosing clean and affordable solar power,” said Perrin de Jong, the Center’s North Carolina staff attorney. “As one of the largest corporate utilities in the world, Duke Energy is abusing its monopoly power. It’s creating an unjust system where only the wealthy can afford renewable energy and everyone else is forced to buy dirty power from giant utilities.”
NC WARN contended that Duke Energy convinced North Carolina regulators to determine that NC WARN’s power purchase agreement violated a state statute prohibiting third-party sales of electricity to the public. The organization appealed the original decision in court, which resulted in a split, 2-1 decision in the state court of appeals. It also contended that the regulators’ ruling reversed a previous ruling.Tweet