CHARLOTTE- Leaders from Greenpeace, the NAACP and other North Carolina community groups, as well as a member of the Charlotte City Council were on hand Monday to protest Duke Energy and what they say is the company’s “greed-based” effort to limit solar energy.
“Whenever solar panels go up, that means that Duke doesn't have to be the only energy provider in town. And that poses serious risks to their monopoly” said Monica Embrey, Field Organizer for Greenpeace USA
“We're calling on Duke Energy to do the right thing” said Hector Vaca of Action NC.
They held what organizers billed as a “speak out” in front the Duke Energy building. They say the company has launched an attack on net metering, which requires Duke to offer credits to customers with rooftop solar panels for any extra energy they generate but don’t use.
“Duke is selling us energy at approximately eleven cents per kilowatt hour. People who produce energy deserve to get paid that same amount” said Embrey.
But a spokesman for Duke Energy says the rates the company pays residential solar producers are significantly higher than what they pay larger producers and they simply want to pay a rate they consider fair.
“There are solar farms we're paying five to seven cents for solar energy. So it looks a little unusual that we're paying so much more for residential rooftop solar” said Randy Wheeless.
Duke says they have already made significant investments in solar power, saying they have put more than 40 million dollars into rooftop solar incentive programs since 2007 and several billion dollars into growing their solar and wind power businesses.
“I think it gets overlooked. North Carolina is number two in the nation with solar installations. Most of that is either built or bought by Duke Energy” said Wheeless.
But the leader of the Charlotte NAACP says Duke Energy needs to do more, not less, to reward customers who generate solar energy.
“We're saving them money. So why can't the public be compensated equitably just like they're compensated for all the things that they say they do?” said Rev. Kojo Nantambu.