A North Carolina appeals court has reminded energy developers in the state of the importance of structuring a transaction so as not to trigger the state’s utility franchise laws. For one unfortunate developer, that reminder came in the form of disgorged revenues and potential monetary penalties.
Earlier this month, on September 19, 2017, a North Carolina appeals court (in a 2-1 decision) upheld a decision of the North Carolina Utilities Commission (“NCUC”), which found that an environmental non-profit organization (NC WARN) was impermissibly operating as a North Carolina “public utility” when NC WARN entered into a power purchase agreement to own and operate solar panels on a church’s property and to charge the church based on the amount of electricity generated by the solar panels. (State of North Carolina ex rel. Utilities Commission et al. v. North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, Case No. COA16-811). The North Carolina court found that such service by NC WARN infringed on the franchised utility’s electric service territory, contrary to North Carolina’s policy prohibiting retail electric competition and establishing regional monopolies on the sale of electricity. According to the court, NC WARN’s activities (in owning and operating the solar panels on the church’s roof and selling electricity from those solar panels to the church) were in direct competition with the franchised utility’s services as both entities were selling electricity to the franchised utility’s customer.
Continue Reading Transaction Structuring Matters: North Carolina Rejects Third-Party Rooftop Solar Power Purchase Agreements