N.C. Senate Amendments to Solar Bill Raise Objections From Duke Energy, Sustainability Advocates Alike

This article was originally posted on Charlotte Business Journal.

Amendments adopted Monday night to the solar reform bill before the General Assembly would reduce the Carolinas’ commitment to new solar construction and impose a three-year moratorium on N.C. wind projects.

Those changes and others adopted by the Senate Finance Committee in a late-evening session seriously undermine the renewable energy features of the “Competitive Energy Solutions for NC” act. And they brought immediate objections from those involved in negotiating the bill and crafting its final form in the House, where the original version passed June 7.

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Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) would get to keep most of its benefits from the House bill it under the changes the committee approved. But the Charlotte-based power company objects to the changes just the same.

“We support what came out of the stakeholder process,” says Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless. He was referring to the months of sometimes difficult negotiations on the bill that finally bore fruit in early June, after principal sponsors — Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) and Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) — took a direct hand in the them.

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association and others in the negotiations are also objecting. The N.C. Clean Energy Business Association, which participated in the negotiations from the stater, withdrew it’s support of the bill in a letter to senators Tuesday morning.

With these changes, including an unnecessary, anti-business moratorium on wind energy, NCCEBA is no longer in support of the bill, and we ask you to oppose it in the Rules Committee today as well as on the Senate floor,” NCCEBA lobbyist Chris Carmody wrote.

More action Tuesday

None of the supporting organizations were given an opportunity to speak at the Finance hearing. The bill was approved as amended and sent on to the Senate Rules and Operations Committee for hearing Tuesday and a possible Senate vote when the chamber convenes Tuesday afternoon.

Duke, NCSEA, the NCCEBA and Weyerhauser — which is leasing land to wind developers for future projects — are expected to be given a chance to speak at that hearing.

Read the full article here.