Duke Energy controls, stifles Solar power projects

You can't play if they won't throw you the ball:

Independent solar companies say they can’t even get in the door to negotiate with the Charlotte energy giant. “It’s not difficult to do a deal with them,” says Richard Harkrader of Carolina Solar Energy in Durham. “It’s impossible.”

In Charlotte, Optima Engineering founder Keith Pehl says all 17 of the independent commercial solar projects his company brought to Duke Energy in the past two years foundered on failed power-purchase negotiations. Pehl contends Duke’s approach is to control the local market and refuse to pay competitive prices for power from developers and building owners.

I thought we were past this type of behavior, but I was wrong. If you recall from some of my earliest diaries here, I was deeply concerned about the limitations Duke Energy had placed on its net-metering program, such as limiting the size of projects and the total number of residences (.02% of baseload) that could sign up. It appears they are still thinking along those lines:

In 2007, the N.C. General Assembly adopted the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. It requires utilities to produce a specific percentage of the power they sell from solar and other alternative sources. One of the avowed aims was to encourage renewable-energy businesses in the state.

The industry’s development, however, is dependent on power-purchase agreements with utilities.

Duke did one big purchase deal with an out-of-of state solar firm and then used a few N.C. companies as installers for its company-owned distributed-energy projects. It’s buying a quarter of its renewable solar credits from outside the state. Little of Duke’s solar spending is going to N.C. companies.

“Duke is choosing to comply in a way that doesn’t happen to encourage folks outside of Duke Energy,” says Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director and co-author of a new report on potential solar jobs in the state.

There is momentum building in the private sector to harnass renewable energy, and Duke Energy's efforts to monopolize and control, if left unchecked by regulators, could kill this movement in its infancy. We can't let that happen, folks.

Comments

Maybe somebody

Maybe somebody from Duke Energy would like to 'splain this? I'm sure they're reading your posts. The spokesperson's comments don't offer any specifics that would defend Duke's posture.

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We are not amused.

Flirting with anti-trust

I can understand what's driving their approach: The fear of losing their monopoly of the energy generation market, and having to compete with dozens (or hundreds) of smaller generators.

But if they continue to work against progress in this fashion, the movement to wrest control of that infrastructure away from them will grow, and they won't be able to make a dime from partnering with emerging power generating entities.

Either ride the wave or get drowned.

This is all about them having their plan in order....

Over many years, utility companies have always had their consumers expecting that next rate increase, which leads to the execs getting their slice also. But this wind thing, is such a big plus for electrical efficiency, at least in my view. Most days, especially in the three to four warm months, all those generating units get really used to the max, mainly because of the air conditioning needs. And the peak periods are in the afternoons. As most sailors know, the best time to expect a good sail are also during those hours of the day. So these wind generators will really crank out the amps when they can be used most efficiently. But, now a problem will exist for the utility companies, finding this surplus energy supply being added without a trainload of coal or oil on the expense ledgers, and this might lead to some rate cuts!(gulp) People might get used to that idea, and the next thing will be solar energy expansion, and before you know it, a cut in executive pay!

Breaking up the electric utility monopoly:

The number of government-sponsored, protected and created monopolies/collusions that our country has adopted is truly upsetting. With this not only encourages a restraint on trade with potential competitors (like promising renewables) in the marketplace through restriction on entry and license to practice provisions, but reinforces the egregious government-subsidized power monopolies and familiar sky-rocketing utility hikes. Does this seem equitable?

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