A nonprofit group is challenging the state over how it regulates electricity sales. North Carolina Waste Awareness, or NC WARN, installed solar panels at a Greensboro church last year. But state officials say selling the electricity is against the law.

NC WARN installed the solar panels with the idea that it would provide power to the church at a discount. They charged the congregation almost half of Duke Energy's average electricity price.

The utilities commission ruled last Friday that NC WARN violated the state's system of legal electricity monopolies, and ordered the group to pay nearly $60,000 in fines. The commission says the fines will be suspended if NC WARN refunds the church's money with interest and donates the solar system to the church.

NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren says the group will appeal that decision. Warren told the News and Record that regulators or courts in other states have ruled that "third-party financing of rooftop solar is permissible and in the public interest."

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