- The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would freeze the state's renewable portfolio standard at the current 6% target. The standard is set to rise to 10% of retail electricity sales by 2018 and 12.5% by 2021.
- The bill's passage came after much debate between renewables advocates and supporters of the freeze, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The two sides reached a compromise last week on the freeze by having a committee study longer-term reforms to the state's renewable energy goals.
- Despite the compromise, the deal nearly fell apart when renewables advocates realized that an amendment was reportedly added to the bill that would have eliminate a key property tax break for renewable projects. That amendment was subsequently removed before final passage of the bill.
- The bill now heads to the North Carolina Senate.
North Carolina is one of the few Southeastern U.S. states with a renewable portfolio standard. One thing to keep in mind is that energy efficiency and other demand reduction efforts counts towards the standard. Sustained legislative efforts to have the standard repealed in 2013 were defeated.
Although the current bill was originally a compromise, a last-minute amendment to the bill nearly changed that by eliminating a key tax break. The property tax break in question allows renewable projects to be valued at 20% of their cost when paying taxes, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. The amendment would have eliminated that break, but negotiators for the renewables industry reportedly gave up another provision they were protecting to get it rescinded.
Supporters of the bill say it would save utility customers money, increase tax revenue, and end what they say are wasteful tax breaks for renewables. Rep. Mike Hager (R) said the act would make North Carolina an "island of low energy prices," which would help attract business investment.
Renewables advocates say that the bill would actually cost the state a great deal of economic development, pointing to the state's burgeoning solar industry and other aspects of the renewable energy economy as leading job creators.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the property tax break amendment passed the House with the bill. That is incorrect. The amendment was not a part of the final bill that passed.