Carolina Journal was the first media outlet to raise questions about the curious timing of an unusual $57.8 million fund linked to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in North Carolina. A memorandum of understanding between Gov. Roy Cooper and pipeline operators created the fund.

Now, WBTV adds another piece to the puzzle.

At the time Cooper’s office was negotiating the terms of the MOU, Duke Energy was negotiating a separate agreement with solar companies in the state over the terms by which is would connect to and purchase power generated by solar farms across the state.

The disagreement between Duke and the solar industry came in the wake of the enactment of legislation in summer 2017 that was intended to increase the production and consumption of solar power in the state.

But, in the wake of that legislation, Duke and solar companies were at a standstill over a technical rating that would, effectively, determine how much power the utility would purchase.

Documents produced as part of the December dump from Cooper’s office show Cooper and his senior staff were tracking the progress of the negotiations between Duke and the solar companies as they considered whether and when to sign the pipeline MOU. …

… A text message from Cooper’s General Counsel, Will McKinney, to two members of his staff on January 1, 2018, shows the pipeline MOU was scheduled to be signed the following day, on January 2, 2018.

But early on the morning of January 2, 2018, McKinney and Cooper’s Senior Adviser, Ken Eudy, exchanged texts regarding the status of the solar negotiations and whether Cooper should sign the pipeline MOU.

“Not sure we should sign ACP agreement unless solar deal works,” Eudy texted McKinney at 7:18 a.m. on January 2.

“Ok. Don’t disagree,” McKinney responded in part. [Emphasis added.]