Exploring renewable energy targets

Bob Geary from the Indyweek crunches some numbers for energy generation and efficiency:

In North Carolina, the institute study found, renewables could supply 40 percent of the state's electricity by 2025. Costs would be comparable to those of conventional power sources—coal, nuclear, natural gas—but with major advantages in air quality, reduced water consumption and zero "climate impacts," it said.

North Carolina could reduce electricity usage by almost one-fourth by 2025. In the next 20 years, renewables (40 percent) combined with energy-efficiency (24 percent) could account for nearly two-thirds of the state's electric-power needs.

But there is a debate amongst proponents on whether (or not) we should reopen SB3 (REPS bill) for modification.

Here's Rep. Pricey Harrison:

Duke Energy officials (but not Progress Energy) pitched the CWIP change in a recent meeting with legislative leaders and a few "legislative skeptics," says state Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, a self-described "skeptic."

"When they were arguing for SB 3," Harrison said, "the utility lobbyists would say the CWIP provision they were after was better [for ratepayers] than the ones in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Now they're back asking for what they have in the other states."

Harrison worries that if the Legislature reopens SB 3, including the 12.5 percent target, it will have to consider the CWIP rule, too. "It's very frustrating," she adds, "because, as a veteran of these utility debates, I can tell you the utilities always win."

And Sen. Josh Stein:

State Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, who also attended the session with Duke Energy, said he understands Harrison's hesitance about reopening SB 3. "Whenever you have complicated and delicately negotiated legislation," Stein says, "different groups will be nervous about revisiting it."

But Stein thinks the untapped potential for renewable power and energy efficiency in North Carolina is too great not to take a fresh look. "I think positioning North Carolina for a clean-energy future is what we need to do."

After what we went through getting SB3 passed in the first place, I'm leaning towards Pricey on this. And the fact that Josh wasn't involved back then puts his opinion more in the "theory" category as opposed to the sting of reality.

Not to mention, if Republicans are as successful as they hope come November, it's likely a third thing will happen: the repeal of all or most SB3 provisions anyway.


The sad fact is

even ignorant Republicans know that clean energy is good for the future of North Carolina. But in spite of that knowledge, they'll balk and obstruct because they don't think public policy should have any role in protecting the environment for the future.

Great diary, Steve, but I'll disagree with you on what to do. I'm with Stein on this, and would argue further that Governor Perdue should put her ass on the line and drive for aggressive renewable energy standards (see Portugal) in hopes of actually doing something that would make a sustainable difference for our children and their children.

In the previous cycle, Dems sold out on this issue for lack of committed leadership. It's time for bold action, even in the face of resignation, hopelessness and despair.

There has to be a way to preserve the trivial gains we've already made, and avoid putting them at trisk as we press ahead for better.

You (and Josh) are probably right

If you're not moving forward, you're moving back, especially when it comes to environmental issues.

There is no comfortable place.

I think I'm still reeling from that @#$%^&* SEPA bill, frankly. I lost a whole lot of faith in the General Assembly's judgment on that. And Bev could have vetoed it, or even left it lying on her desk. But she signed it without any (apparent) hesitation. As a matter of fact, the only bill she didn't sign was one designed to encourage energy efficiency on college campuses. :(