October 18, 2013
Regulators and utilities should move cautiously toward a plan that incorporates renewable energies, particularly solar power, into the mix of electricity delivered to consumers without raising costs, an executive with Duke Energy said Thursday.
“Getting the rules right, now, allows the economic impacts of solar to spread throughout the Carolinas. No final set of rules is going to make everyone happy, including the utilities, but doing something sooner rather than later is better,” said Lee Mazzocchi, Duke’s senior vice president and chief integration and innovation officer.
“Yet in my typical day, solar creeps into every conversation,” he said. “The big reason: solar’s got a ton of momentum behind it.”
Well-known companies are pushing for solar power, Mazzocchi said, naming Walmart, Ikea, BMW Manufacturing and others, including Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Growth in the use of solar energy is expected to reach 50% this year nationally, he said.
Increasing the use of solar power will present opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate new technologies for its generation, delivery and use, he said.
Utilities need to advance the renewable energy conversation with regulators, he said, and adopt new ways to charge for electricity beyond just the kilowatt-hour, ways to price energy products differently.
In states with a higher use of renewable energies, customers that do not use solar power subsidize the higher costs for those that do, he said.
South Carolina regulators have long resisted the adoption of a renewable energy portfolio standard that other states have used as a way to jump-start the use of renewable energies and the development of related technologies.
South Carolina is one of only 13 states without some form of voluntary or mandatory portfolio standard, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. does not have a federal standard, though efforts have been introduced in Congress.