Utility companies Duke and Progress Energy have mounted stiff opposition to state legislation that would increase their state mandate to provide more solar energy. Specifically, their current solar mandate for 2018 is a meager 0.2% of their entire energy portfolio (a benchmark Duke Energy has already admitted to having met), and many have called for increasing the goal to 0.4%.
On this point, Duke and Progress have been obstinate: they will not commit to doubling their investment in solar power, despite evidence from the NC Sustainable Energy Association predicting that the 1,350 jobs created in the solar industry last year could increase to about 8,350.
Current renewable energy standards for North Carolina mandate a 0.2% state utilities investment in solar and offer tax credits for clean energy. Thanks to these provisions, our state has jumped from being in the bottom ten solar-producing U.S. states to the 11th-largest in the country.
Duke Energy Carolinas now has about 21 megawatts of solar energy on its grid, but along with North Carolina’s other large state utility, Progress Energy, the company has vehemently fought against efforts to expand solar energy.
Experts from Carolina Solar Energy say that demand has been maxed out under the current 0.2% solar standard, and that an increase is required for the state to meet consumer demand for renewable, solar energy. Duke is widely known as the biggest nuclear energy provider in America, and along with Progress, still relies on dirty, nonrenewable sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil, for the majority of its energy portfolio.
Enough is enough. All that’s been proposed is a two-tenths of a percentage of an increase of these gigantic, polluting utilities’ investment in solar energy. The potential for jobs and economic growth is immense, not even to mention the vast environmental benefits of moving away from coal, oil, and gas.
Duke and Progress Energy, the ball’s in your court. It’s time to get moving on solar energy, now.