Three of North Carolina’s largest rooftop photo voltaic installers have reached an settlement with Duke Power to place off the implementation of a brand new time-of-use fee till at the very least 2026, based on a settlement filed Thursday with the North Carolina Utilities Fee.
Delayed implementation of the time-of-use fee construction will give the trade extra time to regulate its enterprise mannequin and to barter a collection of incentives linked to Duke’s carbon plan, based on Dave Hollister, founder and president of Sundance Energy Programs.
Whereas Hollister and different events to the settlement consider the incentives method might show to be an attention-grabbing mannequin for increasing photo voltaic era, another trade and environmental teams proceed to oppose Duke Power’s plans to reform web metering.
Duke Power has agreed to carry off on implementing time-of-use charges for North Carolina prospects with rooftop photo voltaic panels, pending regulatory approval, whereas dialogue of an incentives package deal supposed to exchange web metering continues.
The settlement settlement proposes to exchange a collection of time-of-use primarily based charges launched in late 2021 with a “bridge” program that may permit prospects with rooftop photo voltaic to proceed to take part in month-to-month web metering via at the very least 2026. Particular person prospects can be allowed to stay on the bridge fee for 15 years after the date of the set up of their rooftop array, though the bridge fee can be discontinued if the North Carolina Utilities Fee approves a package deal of incentives equal to at the very least 60 cents per watt, based on the settlement.
The settlement, which is topic to approval by the North Carolina Utilities Fee, will give Duke Power extra time to work out the main points of these incentives, based on Lon Huber, senior vice chairman of pricing and buyer options for Duke Power. It was additionally profitable at addressing trade considerations and constructing a stronger coalition engaged on renewable power in North Carolina, Huber mentioned.
“It’s actually ensuring that we now have that extensive tent…the place we’re all working collectively, so there’s no blind spots and we proceed to work collectively to be sure that we’re profitable within the regulatory enviornment,” Huber mentioned. “It’s partly that, after which there’s additionally some extra certainty that the photo voltaic trade can plan round.”
Sundance Energy Programs intervened within the web metering case alongside two different photo voltaic installers in early 2022. Duke Power had proposed to implement time-of-use charges for rooftop photo voltaic in each North Carolina and South Carolina on the time, however a settlement in South Carolina with a number of photo voltaic trade and environmental teams had proposed a collection of incentives supposed to offset the impact of the brand new fee schedule on the photo voltaic trade. Nonetheless, regulators declined to implement the motivation package deal in South Carolina, leaving solely the time-of-use payment schedule.
“What that left was a very unhealthy deal for photo voltaic in South Carolina, and we noticed that this may occur in North Carolina as effectively,” Hollister mentioned, prompting Sundance Energy Programs to touch upon the case.
The bridge fee proposed within the settlement, Hollister mentioned, supplies a brief answer, however one he hopes will permit extra time for the incentives package deal to be mentioned in a separate continuing, as at the moment required by state regulation. The settlement requires all events to advocate for the creation of the incentives, and Hollister mentioned they’ve agreed to help state laws as essential to permit Duke Power to contemplate customer-generated renewable power that’s consumed on web site to be thought-about a demand-side power useful resource.
“If the power you eat on-site just isn’t a part of the [cost shifting] equation, that modifications your complete equation,” Hollister mentioned. “So this can be a win-win for everybody if we are able to set up a precedent that enables for self-consumed renewable power to be thought-about power effectivity.”
Huber mentioned Duke Power additionally hopes to tie these potential demand-side power financial savings to their state-mandated decarbonization plan, which was launched final week however will likely be topic to further deliberation earlier than the utility fee. The corporate additionally stays dedicated to reviving the incentives package deal in South Carolina, he mentioned.
Nonetheless, some North Carolina teams stay against the settlement, together with local weather justice group NC WARN.
“We admire that the photo voltaic firms are in a very tough scenario,” NC WARN govt director Jim Warren mentioned. “Duke Power from the outset has been making clear to earlier settlers and to those newest ones, that in the event that they don’t go together with Duke, then Duke will attempt to ram via one thing that’s even worse than the primary deal. So it’s a troublesome scenario, however it’s clear that it’s a step backward and I do know that numerous our allies are going to proceed to combat this.”
Warren mentioned he believes Duke has deliberately undervalued photo voltaic in proceedings thus far to be able to forestall the adoption of applied sciences that might disrupt the utility’s enterprise mannequin. He mentioned NC WARN and its allies would proceed to combat modifications to Duke’s web metering program till the North Carolina Utilities Fee has accomplished an unbiased cost-benefit evaluation of this system.