Viewpoint

In solar debate, rules apply to NC WARN too

Wheeless
Wheeless

From Duke Energy spokesman Randy Wheeless, in response to “Eliminate Duke’s grip on renewables” (Nov. 10 op-ed):

Duke Energy welcomes the discussion over the future of energy. And we welcome competition on a level playing field for all. Groups like NC WARN and their allies are certainly welcome to their own point of view on these issues, but not their own facts.

The latest from NC WARN involves the organization establishing itself as an electric utility to sell power from a solar array to a church in Greensboro. This is while it avoids complying with the law, including regulation by the N.C. Utilities Commission. Elon University professor Jeffery Coker supported this move in a Nov. 10 opinion piece.

NC WARN’s unauthorized utility activity is in clear violation of current regulations, which are in place to ensure quality service, fairness and safeguards to all customers. Comments filed with the NCUC by municipal and investor-owned utilities, electric co-ops and the Public Staff – the state’s consumer advocate – all agree this violates the law.

Any company in any industry would be against allowing newcomers to avoid rules, while the same newcomers support continued regulation of others. What NC WARN is doing is similar to driving a car on the highway and saying the rules of the road apply only to others.

Duke Energy is in the middle of a $500 million solar expansion in the state, with four major solar facilities under construction. More than 3,000 customers have rooftop solar connected to the company’s grid. These are some of the reasons North Carolina is fourth in the nation for solar power, and first among Southern states. NC WARN doesn’t like to mention that. Neither did Professor Coker.

We support a comprehensive discussion about solar and the variety of renewable energy issues important to North Carolina. Productive discussions make more sense than grandstanding.

NC WARN and Professor Coker forget most states that do allow these types of sales have higher electric rates. Duke’s retail rates are around 20 percent lower than the national average. Thousands of Duke Energy employees in the Carolinas work to keep this reality – and make this state such a great place to live, work and call home.

Duke Energy has a long history of helping craft positive energy solutions for our customers and the state. We hope organizations join the discussion in a positive manner. North Carolina deserves better than negative rhetoric and headlines.

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