From an editorial in the Fayetteville Observer on Friday:
Solar energy is clean, quiet and not expected to run out before the human race does. North Carolina is now the nations fourth-largest producer.
The states Utilities Commission is meeting to decide on revised solar regulations, including setting rates and determining what sort of contract applies to producers of various sizes.
A few companies, including Google and Apple, operate off-grid North Carolina solar farms to power regional sites. But most sell to utility companies, especially the states largest, Duke Energy.
Solar-farm operators want some changes that would favor them. Theyd like higher rates, reflecting the health benefit of solar over other forms of power. Duke objects, promising to pass costs on to consumers. Commissioners should proceed carefully.
But Duke also wants them to prevent solar farms bigger than 100 kilowatts from qualifying for the most favorable contracts. With todays threshold at 5 megawatts, the stricter standard would strip the benefit from all but the tiniest, least practical operations.
Advocates for solar say this reduction would kill many farms, which they suspect Duke wants. Most expenses in running a solar farm are in construction. Without promise of a long, rewarding contract, it will be harder for many investors to take the solar plunge. This drastic change makes little sense. Commissioners should reject it.
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