- Solar stakeholders in North Carolina say a bill to modernize the state's energy policies has been weighed down in the Senate by amendments which reduce the state's commitment to solar development and instate a three-year moratorium on wind projects.
- Developed in the House, HB 589 aimed to create a competitive bidding process for solar developers and put in place a solar leasing program allowing customers to work with private parties.
- After being passed by the Senate yesterday, lawmakers appointed a conference committee to reconcile differences in the bills. But stakeholders who formerly supported the efforts are now withdrawing their support.
Charlotte Business Journal has some details on changes to the bill, which was amended as it worked its way through committees. The amendment reduced the amount of solar energy Duke must bid out over the next four years, after which that competitive process will terminate.
Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless told CBJ that the utility supports "what came out of the stakeholder process,” referring to lengthy negotiations that went into developing the bill.
Advocacy group Clean Air Carolina indicated in a blog post that it believes that changes "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," Caitlin Baussan wrote for the group. "This version also undervalues solar power in many ways that could harm the solar industry in the state."
CBJ also reports Sen. Harry Brown (R) introduced a three-year wind project moratorium that could impact several projects in development. Brown was one of three senators who earlier this year sponsored legislation to stop all new wind power permits while a study is conducted into their potential impacts on military operations.