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In NC, Everyone Can Win with Third-Party Sales of Electricity

Posted By NCSEA, Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bring Third-Party Sales to North Carolina: Call Your Legislator and Ask Them to

Support House Bill 245 Today!

The Energy Freedom Act introduces limited market competition for North Carolina’s electricity customers, who are currently required to purchase power from the monopoly utility that serves their community. House Bill 245 changes this dynamic, placing the power of choice in the consumers’ hands by legalizing a practice commonly known as “third party sales” of electricity.

The legislation would for the first time allow North Carolina property owners to purchase electricity directly from a renewable energy company of their choosing. The company would own, operate and maintain a power system installed on the property owner’s roof or property. 

Successful passage of The Energy Freedom Act would be a game-changer for North Carolina’s growing clean energy economy, which continues to prove its long-term value to our State. Here’s a look at how:

More Affordable Options, Increased Supply Accountability for Consumers

Much like a car or a home, the upfront cost of purchasing a new renewable energy system can be a barrier to investment. Third-party sales of electricity arrangements make it easier and more affordable for consumers to invest in renewable energy by translating that upfront cost into manageable monthly payments for the electricity, often below utility rates.

In addition to eliminating the upfront cost and the hassle of maintenance, third-party sales agreements also minimize risk to the consumer: Because the system owner is responsible for system performance, it only receives payments for power that is delivered. At least 24 states allow these third-party options, and law or regulation is unclear on the issue in another 22 states. However, North Carolina is one of just five states that explicitly do not allow these energy financing options.

A Market Differentiator: Keeping NC Businesses Competitive

In states where it is allowed, third-party sales of electricity have proven to be a major market driver. According to GTM Research, two out of every three new residential solar installations in 2013 were third-party owned systems. In Colorado, one of the top solar markets in the U.S., that number is well over 90 percent. The model is also a preferred option for many of America’s most well-known businesses, with corporate leaders like Walmart, Lowe’s, Target and Macy’s going solar because it is good for their bottom line. Both the popularity and predictable returns of the model has attracted investment from major banks, including US Bancorp, Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Merrill Lynch.

A Boon for Our Military Facilities and Universities

Our nation’s military, which views a transition to homegrown renewable energy as a national security imperative, has used third-party arrangements to install renewable energy on bases from Nevada to Maryland. And although North Carolina is currently ranked second in the nation for new installed solar capacity, current law prevents our UNC System from enjoying the benefits of North Carolina-grown solar power. (Meanwhile, one of North Carolina’s largest solar farms is helping two Washington, DC area universities – George Washington and American – meet over half their electricity needs, while lowering their energy costs!)

This legislation would provide military installations with flexibility to select energy sources that can be controlled in the event of an emergency, as well as financing options that create energy cost savings which can go to other vitally needed resources that drive mission readiness. For our state-owned universities, this bill would finally mean reaping the cost-saving rewards of generating on-site renewable energy.

Utilities Already Win – In Other States. Why Not Here?

Even Duke Energy is finding business opportunity in third-party sales of electricity, although not here in its home state. The utility’s unregulated commercial arm, Duke Energy Renewables, recently acquired a majority stake in REC Solar, a leading provider of third-party solar energy services – and savings – to American businesses. Duke Energy is now prepared to invest up to $225 million in REC's solar projects. While the power company is expanding its business to help companies save on their energy bills in other states, state law inexplicably prevents customers in Duke's own North Carolina service territory from having those same energy financing options.

It is time to enable third-party sales of electricity in North Carolina so that our energy customers have access to the same competitive energy options that Duke Energy is supporting elsewhere. 

Bring Third-Party Sales to North Carolina: Call Your Legislator and Ask Them to

Support House Bill 245 Today!

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Tags:  clean energy  free market  legislative  third party sales 

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