House Bill 589: Competitive Energy Solutions for NC

Jun 28, 2017

Caitlin Baussan

Caitlin Baussan

Guest Bloggger

Caitlin became interested in the links between health and the environment while studying medical anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She has spent almost two years volunteering with the League of Women Voters and was recently named Chair of the Environmental Issues Team for Orange, Durham, and Chatham counties. She is interested in becoming a physician’s assistant, and has been certified as an EMT.

Senators Szoka, Arp, and Watford have introduced a bill that, if adopted, could have updated the state implementation of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) paired with the creation of a competitive bidding process of new renewable energy sources. Included in House Bill 589 were proposed programs that could encourage both businesses and residents in our state to utilize solar energy. These programs would allow large energy consumers such as the military and UNC university systems to purchase reasonably priced solar energy, encourage homeowners and renters to be able to tap into community solar initiatives, and renewables will be more accessible through rebates and solar panel leasing opportunities.

Energy and Emissions

Emissions from non-renewable energy generation from the coal, natural gas, and nuclear industries are well researched. These pollutants are linked to a myriad of both chronic and acute cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, and contribute to premature death rates. Our economy feels the impact of air pollution as well, as long-lasting conditions such as asthma and heart disease reduce worker productivity, increase sick leave, and put strain on our health care systems.

Future of House Bill 589

H 589 could improve the short- and long-term health of our citizens by encouraging reduced reliance on pollutant-emitting energy sources. The broader context of this bill is that North Carolina has been, and is predicted to remain, one of the leading states for job creation and net migration. Over the next four to five years, H 589 had the ability to increase installed solar capacity by five-fold at a time when our energy demands are rapidly increasing in both the private and commercial sectors. Although it is limited in its capacity, H 589 could foster solar energy generation in our state if we do not corrupt the intent it began with.

Clean Air Carolina believes that the bills modifications and changes that are happening at the last moments of the 2017 session are faulty and do not reflect the best steps forward for the states renewable energy sector. Changes from the Senate limit the ability of the state to procure renewable energy in the future through competitive bidding.  This version also undervalues solar power in many ways that could harm the solar industry in the state.  You still have time to ask questions and participate in the process. To learn more contact your representative at: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/reports/room-phone.pl?Chamber=House&viewType=normal