Who Owns The Sun? ALEC & Duke Energy Try To Heavily Fine Small Church & Nonprofit

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A recent story from North Carolina sounds like a rendition of David and Goliath. The question that comes out of it may be, who own’s the sun? ALEC and Duke Energy are trying to heavily fine Faith Community Church and a small NC nonprofit. Why? For caring about the environment and installing 20 solar panels. The utility is asking state regulators for a stiff penalty against the nonprofit providing solar power to Faith Community Church.

Inside Climate News finds this is a case that could reshape third-party solar. An earlier report on North Carolina’s halt in progress, published by Creative Loafing in Charlotte, NC, said, “New law could crush North Carolina’s solar industry.”

The stakes are high, according to NC WARN, the nonprofit dedicated to renewable energy and mitigating climate change. It is becoming one of just a few states halting progress and third-party electricity generation.

“When environmental advocates started selling cheap solar power to a church in Greensboro, N.C., five months ago, they did it to test the state’s ban on non-utility providers of renewable energy. But now the state’s largest utility, Duke Energy, is fighting back,” Zahra Hirji of Inside Climate News writes.

Credit: NC WARN

In the last 7 years, North Carolina had been one of the better states mounting solar installations in the United States. Due to progress in regulations started in 2007 that set mandatory minimums on how much renewable energy utilities must sell their customers, things looked good. But now, Creative Loafing finds, a new law in the state legislature will stop and reverse the meaningful forward progress. “N.C. House Bill 332 will freeze those mandates before they are set to more than double over the next six years.”

According to PoliticusUSA.com, “In North Carolina, Duke Energy, the Heartland Institute, the Koch brothers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have recently targeted a small neighborhood church for having the temerity to ‘buck Duke Energy’ and get their electricity from the Sun instead of dirty Duke Energy.”

Imposing hefty daily fines for the responsible choice of renewable energy. Why? It sounds rather medieval — to have a problem with 20 solar panels.

“In North Carolina, the above-listed dirty fossil fuel proponents apparently regard the Sun as a ‘third-party electricity generator’ and they are pursuing very substantial fines against a Greensboro church because they installed 20 solar panels on the roof and are not paying Duke Energy for the electricity being generated by that clean source of electrical power, the Sun.”


The non-denominational Faith Community Church partnered with the environmental and social justice group NC WARN (the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network) to install the solar panels, save on electrical bills, and preserve the environment.

A senior pastor at the small Greensboro church, the Reverend Nelson Johnson, really summed up a sentiment that reasonable humans embrace: “This giant monopoly, Duke Energy, should not be entitled to the energy from the sun, which God has given to all of us.” However, PoliticusUSA.com goes on to point out, “Now leaving the ‘God’ out of the equation, the pastor is right; giant monopoly or not, no entity, not Duke Energy or Koch Industries is entitled to monopolize solar energy or prohibit.”

SolarLove.org not so long ago shared hope in North Carolina during a good spell: “The driver behind much of this growth is, according to those behind the report (which you can find here), supportive state policies — such as the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit.”

North Carolina and Florida share more than essential natural beauty — both states need to improve policies stimulating solar power growth, and allowing the private market to go solar. With a bit less Goliath, perhaps the beauty in both states will remain intact.

Related Stories:

North Carolina Solar Boosting North Carolina Economy

Small-Scale Solar Energy Companies Push Duke Energy To Back North Carolina Tax Credits

The Grass Roots Pushing Florida Constitutional Amendment Ballot Initiative To Grow Solar Power

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

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