Residential and Commerical customers of power companies are already paying more for renewable energy. A special annual add-on rate is charged to cover the cost of the utilites purchasing renewable energy, such as solar power. That special rider is capped at $10 for residential customers this year. But it climbs to a cap of $12 for the next two years and then to $34 in 2015. An industrial customer could pay up to $500 but that goes up to $1,000 in 2015. That is from a law passed in 2007. Now other bills have been introduced that could add more costs to the consumer and retailer. One, HB495, would double the amount of solar power utilities would have use to satisfy an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. The sponsors are Republicans Tom Murry, Tim Moffitt and Ruth Samuelson. At the same time it would reduce the amount of solar power those utilitites could purchase from outside the state. Scott Sutton with Progress Energy says it is already somewhat difficult to find new solar power projects in state. He says developers are having trouble finding investors. Sutton says Progress Energy has already canceled contracts with some companies because they couldn’t complete the terms of the contract.
Then there is HB135, which would establish a new “Energy Efficiency Public Benefit Loan Fund.” The fund would be used to loan consumers money to invest in energy effiiciency or renewable energy projects to lower their electricity consumption. They would pay back their loans with an additional cost in their utility bill. It’s sponsored by Democrats Patsy Keever, Diane Parfitt and Ron Moore. To finance the fund the sponsors would impose a 5% excise tax on retailers that sell inefficient products that don’t qualify for an Energy Star rating. That would be passed on to the customer but the sponsors say it would discourage the use of those inefficient products. It’s not clear how many inefficient retailers are out there or how much that tax would collect.