Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 16, 2017

Contact: Perrin de Jong, (828) 252-4646,

Legal Action Challenges Duke Energy Stranglehold On North Carolina Rooftop Solar

DURHAM, N.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity today took legal action to challenge Duke Energy’s controversial effort to stop a North Carolina nonprofit from providing rooftop solar panels for the Faith Community Church in Greensboro, N.C.

“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.”

The local climate-justice nonprofit NC WARN agreed to install solar panels on the Faith Community Church in exchange for repayment based on the electricity generated. Such power purchase agreements drive solar development in many states by helping people pay over time when they can't afford rooftop solar's upfront costs.

At the urging of Duke Energy, the state’s monopoly utility, North Carolina regulators determined that the agreement violated a state statute prohibiting third-party sales of electricity to the public. NC WARN appealed the order, which resulted in a contentious, split lower-court decision.

The nonprofit’s appeal to the decision is now being heard by the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Center’s amicus brief submitted in support of the appeal was also signed by other national nonprofits, including Greenpeace, Inc., Friends of the Earth U.S., Food and Water Watch and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“From catastrophic super-storms to disastrous droughts, we’re already feeling the devastating effects of climate change,” said de Jong. “We urgently need to transition to cleaner sources of power for the planet and everyone who lives on it. Corporate, profit-driven utilities shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of a just and clean energy revolution.”

North Carolina is one of a handful of states that prohibits power purchase agreements. Others include Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma. This legal mechanism is one way utilities have attempted to block or shut down distributed solar development. Other tactics, such as charging unfair fees and eliminating net metering programs, have hobbled solar growth in states like Arizona and Nevada.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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