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Energy & Environment
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At Duke Energy annual meeting, a debate over solar rules changes

Duke has offered $62 milllion in rebates over five years to help pay for solar panels on a home, business or nonprofit rooftops.
Duke Energy
Duke Energy wants to add a monthly fee and reduce payments for rooftop solar owners.

Duke Energy's proposal to change how rooftop solar owners in North Carolina are paid was an issue both inside and outside the company's annual meeting Thursday.

State regulators are considering Duke's plan to add a $10 monthly charge for customers who install solar panels and to reduce what they get paid for excess electricity sent to the grid. When asked at the online-only meeting why Duke wants the changes, CEO Lynn Good said the current payments are too high, and unfair to non-solar customers.

Scott Ritchie
Duke Energy
Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good

"We need to pay at a fair and reasonable rate, so that not only the customer who generates the power, but the customers who benefit from power are paying a fair amount," she said.

As Good spoke, about a dozen critics of the plan demonstrated outside the company's former headquarters on South Tryon Street in Charlotte. (Duke doesn't have a headquarters right now while it waits for a new tower to be completed across the street.)

A spokeswoman with SaveNCSolar.org said the plan would make solar more expensive and slow adoption in the state.

"We're talking about people with residential rooftop solar losing approximately [35%] of the amount that they're getting for their solar," said Kim Porter. "It's going to hurt rooftop solar."

Similar battles over so-called net metering are happening across the country, including California and in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last week vetoed legislation similar to Duke's proposal.

It's not clear when the North Carolina utilities commission might rule on the proposal.

Also at Duke's annual meeting, shareholders elected directors and rejected a shareholder proposal to make it easier to call a special meeting of shareholders.

050522 Duke Energy protest.JPG
David Boraks
Protesters in uptown Charlotte Thursday during Duke Energy's annual meeting. They oppose Duke's proposed changes in the way rooftop solar customers are paid.

Corrected: May 9, 2022 at 9:43 AM EDT
This story has been updated to correct Kim Porter's information about the expected loss in value of electricity that rooftop solar customers send to the grid. She said she should have said the group estimates a 35% loss, not a 15% loss.