October 10, 2023

More Inclusive Utility Investment Programs are Coming

By: Jenna Barron

We’re delighted to share big news from our friends in North Carolina!

After nearly two years of stakeholder engagement between inclusive utility investment champions in North Carolina and Duke Energy, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has given final approval to Duke Energy’s inclusive utility investment tariff for residential energy efficiency upgrades. This commission approval supports the recommendation made by the Southeast Energy Insecurity Stakeholder Initiative that “utilities should offer inclusive tariff on-bill programs to finance energy efficiency and weatherization projects in residential customer’s homes” to reduce high energy use and make energy costs more affordable.

North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) leads a working group that champions inclusive utility investments in North Carolina. The North Carolina Justice Center, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and others were also a part of this group that engaged with Duke Energy on the design of their inclusive utility investment program. The NCUC decision fulfills an action recommended in the Governor Roy Cooper’s Clean Energy Plan to “develop voluntary on-bill pay as you save tariff, using Roanoke EMC as an example of successful application in NC.”

Roanoke Cooperative, a rural electric cooperative in the eastern part of the state, is the first utility in North Carolina to implement an inclusive utility investment program. Since Roanoke’s Upgrade to $ave began in 2014, the statewide working group has collected insights and lessons learned to build the case for full implementation that would bring benefits to thousands of customers, rather than a small pilot for existing buildings.

“This approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission is a testament to the impact our collaborative efforts can have on the energy sector. It’s a fantastic milestone, and I’m excited about the potential for even greater advancements in the future.”

– Marshall Cherry, President and CEO, Roanoke Cooperative.

Clean Energy Works has provided technical assistance on inclusive utility investments to the working group and Roanoke Cooperative. But it is only due to the diligence of these North Carolina based groups that Duke Energy is set to launch their program in early 2024, making it a leader among investor owned utilities (IOUs).

But that’s not all!

In California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued a decision calling for a joint inclusive utility investment proposal from all Californian IOUs – PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and Southern California Gas. The CPUC has directed them to collaborate in a Tariff On-Bill Working Group to produce a Joint Proposal for submission in the spring of 2024. Clean Energy Works provided input in the stakeholder engagement process conducted as part of this rulemaking and has worked closely with the Building Decarbonization Coalition to increase awareness of inclusive utility investments in California.

The launch of the North Carolina program and the upcoming tariff filings in California could result in nearly 20 million customers having the option to participate in new inclusive utility investment programs. This is a monumental moment, setting precedents for other IOUs and regulators across the country to follow in their footsteps.

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