62-126.5. Scope of leasing program in offering utilities' service areas.

(a) An offering utility and its affiliates may be deemed to be electric generator lessors and may offer leases to solar energy facilities only within the offering utility's own assigned service area or, in the case of an affiliate, the service area assigned to an affiliated offering utility. The costs an offering public utility incurs in marketing, installing, owning, or maintaining leases through its own leasing programs as a lessor shall not be recovered from other nonparticipating utility customers through rates, and the Commission shall not have any jurisdiction over the financial terms of such leases. An offering utility, and the customer generator lessees that lease facilities from it, may participate on an equal basis with other lessors and lessees and in any approved incentive program offered by the utility to its customers.

(b) An electric generator lessor that owns a solar energy facility within the assigned service area of an offering utility and that is located on a premises owned or leased by a customer generator lessee shall be permitted to lease such facility exclusively to a customer generator lessee under a lease, provided that the electric generator lessor complies with the terms, conditions, and restrictions set forth within this section and holds a valid certificate issued by the Commission pursuant to G.S. 62-126.7. An electric generator lessor shall not be considered a "public utility" under G.S. 62-3(23) if the solar energy facility is only made available to a customer generator lessee under a lease that conforms to the requirements of G.S. 62-126.6 for the customer generator lessee's use on its premises where the solar energy facility is located to serve the electric energy requirements of that particular premises, including to enable the customer generator lessee to obtain a credit for the electricity generated under an applicable net metering tariff or to engage in the sale of excess energy from the solar energy facility to an offering utility.

(c) Any lease of a solar energy facility not entered into pursuant to this section is prohibited and any electric generator lessor that enters into a lease outside of an offering utility's program implemented pursuant to this section or otherwise enters into a contract or agreement where payments are based upon the electric output of a solar energy facility shall be considered a "public utility" under G.S. 62-3(23) and be in violation of the franchised service rights of the offering utility or any other electric power supplier authorized to provide retail electric service in the State. This section does not authorize the sale of electricity from solar energy facilities directly to any customer of an offering utility or other electric power supplier by the owner of a solar energy facility. The electrical output from any solar energy facility leased pursuant to this program shall be the sole and exclusive property of the customer generator lessee.

(d) The total installed capacity of all solar energy facilities on an offering utility's system that are leased pursuant to this section shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the previous five-year average of the North Carolina retail contribution to the offering utility's coincident retail peak demand. The offering utility may refuse to interconnect customers that would result in this limitation being exceeded. Each offering utility shall establish a program for new installations of leased equipment to permit the reservation of capacity by customer generator lessees, whether participating in a public utility or nonutility lessor's leasing program, on its system, including provisions to prevent or discourage abuse of such programs. Such programs must provide that only prospective individual customer generator lessees may apply for, receive, and hold reservations to participate in the offering utility's leasing program. Each reservation shall be for a single customer premises only and may not be sold, exchanged, traded, or assigned except as part of the sale of the underlying premises.

(e) To comply with the terms of this section, each customer generator lessor's solar energy facility shall serve only one premises and shall not serve multiple customer generator lessees or multiple premises. The customer generator lessee must enroll in the applicable rate schedule made available by the interconnecting offering utility, subject to the participation limitations set forth in subsection (a) of this section. (2017-192, s. 6(a).)