So reports Dan Way for Carolina Journal:
RALEIGH — Affluent North Carolina residents who put solar panels on their rooftops are being subsidized by lower-income customers because of the state’s renewable energy subsidies and regulations, the president of Duke Energy North Carolina told a legislative panel Tuesday.
“The average household income of customers installing solar panels and using North Carolina’s net metering rate is $110,000 per year. The average household income for all of our North Carolina customers is $67,000 per year,” Duke Energy’s Paul Newton testified before the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy.
A practice called net metering is among the major concerns. Homeowners or small generators of solar power provide electricity generated from their solar facilities to a utility. That offsets the amount of money they pay in their monthly bill.
“While net metering customers use the same utility infrastructure as any other customer, they pay a significantly lower utility bill due to the full retail rate credits they receive for the power their system produces,” Newton said. “That full retail rate includes infrastructure costs, but that’s being reimbursed.”
Because solar generators produce electricity about 20 percent of the time in a year, Newton likened them to a neighbor whose car starts only once in every five attempts, and he borrows his neighbor’s car the other four times. He pays for the gas, but not the monthly payment, insurance, maintenance, and other costs of the vehicle.
“If we charge a customer 10 cents for a kilowatt hour they use, we also pay them 10 cents for a kilowatt hour they sell back to us,” Newton said. “That’s more than the actual value of the energy when compared to other available generation sources.”
The cost then for net metering shifts to households with fewer resources to spare, “and this has to change,” Newton said.
These cross-subsidies will continue without a remedy to the rules, Newton said.
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