North Carolina lawmaker revives push to eliminate renewables mandate
- North Carolina Rep. Chris Millis (R) introduced a bill to eliminate the state's renewable energy portfolio standard, arguing the mandate has cost the state far more than anticipated, WRAL.com reports.
- The renewable standard is currently at 6% and will rise to 10% next year, before reaching 12.5% in 2021. Under the bill, the standard would be frozen at the current level and tax credits for solar energy would be repealed.
- According to Millis, North Carolina has doled out $1.6 billion in tax credits to renewable energy in the last seven years, and the mandate has driven up power bills in the state. Similar efforts to roll back the mandate were unsuccessful in recent legislative sessions.
There is significant debate over whether North Carolina's renewable energy standard has cost the state or saved consumers, and if House Bill 745 becomes law, it would end tax breaks and freeze the RPS at its current level.
WRAL.com reports the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association believes the renewables standard has saved customers $162 million since it was approved in 2010. Strata Policy has estimated the mandates is costing about $3,500 per family.
The proposed bill strikes language directing a renewables standard and instead says energy will be procured "in a manner that is consistent with the development of the least cost mix of generation."
What is clear, however, is that renewable energy mandates and a decline in natural gas prices played a role in pushing out coal-fired generation.
Coal-fired power plants provided more than half of the electricity generated in the state before 2012, but now that is less than a third according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. On the other hand, renewable energy and natural gas generation increased rapidly.
"The amount of electricity generated from solar energy in North Carolina has increased rapidly," EIA said. "With 2,294 megawatts, the state has the third-largest installed solar capacity in the nation."
Wind energy is also growing in the state as federal agencies seek to open up offshore tracts to bidders. Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced it would lease 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina to Avangrid Renewables, for development of a wind energy facility off Kitty Hawk. It would be the company's second wind facility in the state; Avangrid previously developed the 208 MW Amazon Wind Farm.
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