Aggressive action to kill off renewable targets in North Carolina failed this week after a committee in the state legislature defeated the measure with Republican votes.
North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) aims to achieved 12.5% penetration of clean energy and efficiency measures by 2020. The Affordable and Reliable Energy Act was introduced by Representative and energy committee chairman Mike Hager and would have frozen the state’s renewable power mandate at the current 3%, effectively blocking any new renewable contracts or incentives for further energy efficiency savings.
The North Carolina General Assembly’s Public Utilities and Energy Committee voted down its chairman’s own bill by 18 to 13 votes. Six Republican members joined with others from across the aisle to deliver the defeat.
Advocates hailed the bill’s failure to make it out of committee as a victory for renewables in North Carolina. “This vote to defeat the REPS repeal bill was not just a good outcome, it was the right outcome,” said Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association. “North Carolina businesses, ratepayers, workers, and state and local economies all had a stake in this outcome, and they all won a victory today.”
H298 was part of a coordinated national effort by fossil fuel interests to cut state Renewable Portfolio Standards. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is supported by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel interests, has helped introduce measures to kill or cut back on renewable portfolio standards in 19 states. A similar measure to North Carolina's H298 bill has already failed in Kansas.
“What is really interesting is the way in which the bill’s demise in committee revealed a true bipartisan contingent standing behind clean energy,” said an NCSEA spokesman via email. “That is significant not only for this battle, but may presage a growing consensus within the state that sees renewable energy as a driver of economic development and ratepayer interests.”