Environmental groups say hearings underway in Raleigh could determine whether North Carolina’s solar energy industry continues to grow at a rapid pace.
North Carolina has recently become one of the country’s top solar states. It’s number four, after California, Arizona and New Jersey.
Duke Energy and Dominion Power are required to make or buy certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind and hog and poultry waste. The state utilities commission is reviewing how much energy companies should have to pay for that energy.
Utility companies buy from solar farms and they say they want more room for negotiation so they can lower costs for consumers. Environmentalists say that would hurt the solar industry’s growth.
Also, conservation groups want solar energy’s environmental and economic benefits to be considered as part of its cost. But utility companies say those factors are difficult to quantify.
Editor's note, July 8, 2014: This article has been updated to reflect the range of renewable sources being considered by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.