Court sees if church solar panels break electricity monopoly

North Carolina's highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state's electricity monopolies.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission's decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a church rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.

The commission told the group that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.

If the group prevails, it could put new pressure on Duke Energy's monopoly. State officials say a ruling for NC WARN would allow companies to install solar equipment and sell power on site, shaving away customers and forcing Duke Energy to raise rates on everyone else.

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