In 2007, North Carolina became a leader in renewable energy development by becoming the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard. North Carolina set the goal of acquiring 12.5 percent of our energy through renewable resources and increased efficiency by 2026, saving us money while providing new jobs and a cleaner environment.
In 2007, North Carolina became a leader in renewable energy development by becoming the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard. North Carolina set the goal of acquiring 12.5 percent of our energy through renewable resources and increased efficiency by 2026, saving us money while providing new jobs and a cleaner environment. Now, 30 states have adopted such goals, including Virginia.
Unfortunately, some in the North Carolina General Assembly are moving to make our state one of the first states to reverse this progress.
By claiming that renewable power is more expensive than fossil fuel power, outside groups are pressuring North Carolina and other states to repeal clean energy standards. This claim is just not true. RTI International and La Capra Associates Inc. conducted a study showing that North Carolina consumers stand to gain more than $173 million in cost savings by 2026 as a result of the state’s clean energy policies, including the RPS. That study also demonstrates that the RPS does not raise rates.
Thanks to clean energy industry investment, solar panel costs have dropped 80 percent in the past five years. Michigan regulators found that renewable energy often costs less than new coal-fired energy. That is money that can stay in the state, supporting our businesses and boosting our economy.
Since the passage of Renewable Portfolio Standards, North Carolina has become a leader in the renewable energy industry, with more than 1,400 people working in the solar industry and 2,000 employed by the wind energy industry. We are now sixth in the country for the number of homes powered by the sun.
Since 2007, $1.4 billion has been spent on project investment in the state, resulting in more than 21,000 job-years, and this type of economic investment is not limited to our state’s large cities. Forty-seven of our 100 counties have seen $1 million-plus economic benefit from solar projects, many in our state’s rural regions. Davidson, Person and Robeson Counties have experienced more than $100 million in renewable energy project investment over the past six years, and the nation’s largest solar water heating system was built by a North Carolina Company, Asheville’s FLS Energy, at a turkey plant in Robeson County. These are new investments in rural areas hard-hit by job losses and economic divestment.
Our Renewable Portfolio Standard provides long-range benefits for North Carolina. Thanks to our current RPS, our energy supply chain is becoming less vulnerable to inevitable fluctuations in petroleum prices. Through clean energy investment we avoid future cost uncertainties that happen when you are subject to future volatile prices from non-renewable energy sources. Investors like dealing with the known costs associated from renewable energy projects, and are able to plan projects they can afford. Much of the money spent can stay in North Carolina as an investment in jobs and infrastructure in our own energy supplies, rather than supporting the out-of-state coal and gas industry that currently supplies a majority of our power and who have little incentive to consider our state’s best interest.
It is not just those in the clean-energy industry that support an RPS. Duke Energy supported the passage of the original 2007 renewable-energy law, and Jim Rogers, the company’s CEO, has championed these provisions as well. Rogers recognizes that the current law has a provision that prevents utility companies from passing on rate increases to the consumer.
Unfortunately, outside groups are putting at risk all of the cost savings, job growth and in-state clean energy production. Through large campaign donations to our legislative leaders and legislation drafted by outsiders, these outside groups are working to dismantle RPS policies in North Carolina, and in 19 other states. If the proposed bills pass, they will dismantle our renewable energy policy standards and halt the economic benefits and energy independence we have gained. Keeping a strong renewable energy standard is good for North Carolina. We shouldn’t let outside groups reverse the progress we have made.