The North Carolina Senate [last week] voted 47-1 for final passage of Senate Bill 3, which includes a renewable electricity standard (RES) of 12.5% by 2021 with up to 40% of the standard being met through efficiency. The legislation next goes to the desk of Governor Mike Easley (D) for his signature.
Overall, Environmental Defense, a nonprofit group, applauded passage of SB 3, which it noted will make the state the first in the Southeast to use an RES strategy to address global warming pollution. North Carolina becomes the 25th state in the nation to set an RES, which requires utilities to meet a certain percentage of energy demand with renewable sources and efficiency measures.
Under the legislation, which includes energy elements in addition to the RES, utilities will be able to recover costs associated with building coal and nuclear plants before such plants go online.
“I’m certainly encouraged, and I think it gives the utilities incentive to start participating in developing a long-term strategy for pursuing renewables,” said Kevin Rackstraw, eastern region development leader at Clipper Windpower, speaking to Wind Energy Weekly.
Environmental Defense noted that SB 3 will reduce the state’s carbon dioxide footprint by at least 13 million metric tons by 2018, which is equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road, it said.
In addition to the RES, the legislation calls for simplified net metering and interconnection rules to remove regulatory barriers for new renewable energy generation and extended state tax credits for investments in renewable energy technologies to nonprofit entities such as churches.
“This [RES] sets an example for other states in the region to follow,” said Jane Preyer, director of the North Carolina regional office of Environmental Defense. “Despite its merits, the legislation has shortcomings, and the job is not over.”
This article first appeared in the August 3rd edition of AWEA’s Wind Energy Weekly, and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.