Electric utilities and renewable energy developers are facing off this week in front of the North Carolina utilities commission over the price of renewable energy, and how much companies like Duke Energy should have to pay for it. The dispute has drawn in both national environmental organizations and Google.
North Carolina utilities are required to buy the power that small renewable developers produce. For those producing under five megawatts of electricity, utilities have to pay set rates. Those rates and terms are at issue.
Duke Energy and Dominion Power say they are too generous, requiring utilities to pay more for renewable energy while natural gas prices are projected to fall. Those costs would be passed on to customers.
On the other side, renewable developers say the rate is reasonable, costs are competitive, and any cuts will hurt a flourishing North Carolina industry.
An array of environmental and solar advocacy groups have petitioned to intervene in the commission hearing, as has Google. The company operates a data center in the state run on renewable energy.
The hearing was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but could go through the week.