The democratization of the energy sector is coming, but Duke Energy is digging in its heels. Its decision to challenge environmental group N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network is an indication that the utility company will stop at nothing to prevent the transition to a clean energy economy.
Duke Energy likes regulation and fines but only when they’re levied against any entity challenging its hegemony. In the electric utility’s latest crusade against North Carolina renewable advocates, it proposed that a state regulator seize as much as $120,000 from N.C. WARN, which is supporting a Greensboro church.
In Duke Energy’s eyes, the church’s decision to host a solar panel on its roof without providing them compensation ought to yield the same kind of punishment given for polluting the state’s groundwater with coal ash.
N.C. WARN says otherwise. Their valiant campaign, one in which they play David to Duke’s Goliath, seeks to challenge the illegality of third party sales in the state. This antiquated restriction works to prevent citizens and companies from selling electricity that they generate. Because Duke’s centralized business model is most efficient at a large scale, they’ve doubled down on electricity generation from fossil fuels, a destructive choice for communities of color and the climate.
Despite the barriers, innovative solutions to chip away at the electric utility’s monopoly exist. In Boulder, Colo., the city’s government is trying to take over its grid. This process entails creating a local, community-owned utility that serves to benefit the public good, not the fossil fuel interests that are preventing new renewable energy installation.