Judicial Watch: Supremes Asked to Review Rooftop Solar
The NC Supreme Court will have the last word on whether parties other than public utilities can finance the installation of small ‘rooftop’ solar energy systems for third parties in North Carolina.
The clean energy group NC WARN last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court from the contrary opinion of the NC Court of Appeals panel which heard its case. The “test case” on third-party energy system financing was kicked off by NC WARN’s contract in 2015 with Greenboro’s Faith Community Church to build a 5.25 kw rooftop solar energy system. Under the contract, NC WARN built the system and leased it to the church on the basis of kilowatt hours of electricity delivered.
The NC Utilities Commission found that the arrangement violated state law and ordered the contract terminated and NC WARN to pay a punitive $60,000 penalty. The group appealed to the NC Court of Appeals, which upheld the initial ruling on a 2-1 vote of the three-judge panel. Because the decision was not unanimous, the losing party had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
NC WARN and its supporters argue that development of clean energy is in the public interest, and that non-profit third-party financing of these systems is an important community alternative in that process.