- Duke University endorsed legislation aimed at legalizing third-party ownership of solar systems in North Carolina, according to an open letter by Michael Schoenfeld, Duke vice president for public affairs and government relations.
- Members of Duke Climate Coalition (DCC) campaigns, centered on renewable energy, met with Schoenfeld and other administrators earlier in the semester to encourage the university’s public support of the measure,reportsThe Chronicle, the university newspaper.
- Schoenfeld said in the letter that the university supports the measure as part of its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024, and that the legislation would allow the state to access and grow the renewable energy industry already resulting in job growth.
North Carolina is one of five states that hasn't legalized TPO financing, which clean energy advocates argue could help boost the state's already strong solar growth.
Under the legislation (H.B. 245), third parties would be able to sell power directly to consumers as long as the third party's facility doesn't generate more than 125% of the consumer's annual energy use. Limiting system capacity prevents any potential conflict with the utility's legal role, as defined by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC).
Now Duke University is throwing its weight to support the bill, citing its status as one of a major employer in the state and its aggressive policies to reduce its carbon footprint.
Two Duke Climate Coalition campaigns spearheaded efforts delivering to Schoenfeld 250 petitions as well as 250 signatures endorsing TPO, according to The Chronicle. Claire Wang, leader of two DCC campaigns, told the school’s newspaper that the university emphasized its position“one of the largest employers in the state.”
Schoenfeld wrote in the letter that third-party sales would would “give Duke many more options about where our electricity comes” because currently, energy options are “contingent upon what Duke Energy and other utility companies decide to include in their energy mix.”
He also wrote that TPO makes “renewable energy much more affordable and, in many cases, cheaper than buying energy directly from a utility,” and adoption of the legislation would allow the state access the value of distributed renewable energy. ”
While TPO was 72% of the national residential market in 2014, its market share is expected to be less for 2015 as loans and direct ownership take on a bigger role, according to a recent GTM Research report.