State lawmakers are quickly advancing a bill that would overhaul North Carolina's regulations on solar energy production.
It's a wide-ranging measure that's getting rare support from both utilities like Duke Energy and renewable energy advocates. Sponsors of the bill say it's the product of nearly a year's worth of negotiations between the two.
The proposal ends the state's ban on third-party energy sales. Homeowners and businesses would be allowed to lease rooftop solar panels, rather than buy them. And it would set up a competitive bidding process for solar companies to sell power to utilities.
Duke Energy supports that because it would theoretically cut the price of solar. The company’s spokesman Randy Wheeless said the bill also allows the utility to accept bids from developers, which would dramatically cut the price it pays for solar energy.
“It really wasn't tied to the market rate for solar, so in the competitive bidding process, we're able to take what the market is bearing versus some cost the commission had set forth,” Wheeless said.
Renewable energy groups are touting the bill's requirement for Duke Energy to extend its use of solar and bio-fuels.
The bill was introduced this week and has already passed through two committees. It's expected on the House floor today.