- The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) ruled that advocacy group NC WARN may not act as an intervenor in the upcoming proceeding on Duke Energy’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the Charlotte Business Journal reports.
- After reviewing NC WARN comments in the 2014 IRP proceedings, in which the commission reviewed and approved the utility’s 15-year plans, regulators agreed with Duke’s assertion that the group’s repetitive filings made the proceeding “cumbersome and time consuming.”
- NC WARN argues the commission has not addressed what it described as Duke’s exaggerated demand growth forecasts, expenditures for new natural gas and nuclear generation, and "inadequate" investments in renewables and energy efficiency.
This regulatory dispute is another in an 8-year battle between Duke Energy and NC WARN over the type and amount of generation that the utility plans to build using ratepayer funds.
The nation's largest utility has won 18 cases over that time and NC WARN has won one, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.
NC WARN says that Duke’s political leverage makes prevailing in commission and environmental debates difficult, but this is the first time regulators have refused to allow the group a voice. In NCUC's ruling on the 2015 IRP proceeding, the commission decided that NC WARN’s comments would add nothing new. The advocacy group is considering a legal appeal.
Duke and NC WARN are currently locked in a dispute over a 5.2 kW solar array that the group paid to have installed on the roof of a North Carolina church. Selling the generation from the array directly to the church puts the state's prohibition on third party electric sales to the test, with Duke arguing that it violates the utility's exclusive right to supply electricity to customers.
NC WARN argues it legally contracted with the church and is providing a public service by installing rooftop solar. If the NCUC rules in Duke’s favor, it could make NC WARN liable for a $180,000 fine.