Push To Change NC Solar Energy Law Raises Concerns
North Carolina lawmakers are considering a series of solar energy bills. They include extending tax credits for solar energy installations and setting up a loan fund to help businesses and homeowners pay for solar projects.
Environmental groups say they’re concerned over proposed legislation that could repeal the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard, commonly called “REPS”.
At issue is a requirement that the state's utilities generate a portion of their power from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and livestock waste methane. Current state law says they must account for 12.5 percent of total retail sales by 2021.
Amy Adams is with Appalachian Voices. The group is among several organizations that held rallies across the state over the weekend to support clean energy polices and initiatives. She says the standards are key to developing other alternatives to fossil fuels.
“Repealing that means there is no incentive, no requirement for any renewable integration in North Carolina’s power source. It was this reps bill that was enacted in 2007 that has put us in a position to be a number one leader in the Southeast in solar development.”
But other groups like Americans For Prosperity support repealing the state’s renewable portfolio standard. They say millions of North Carolina residents are forced to pay higher energy bills under the legislation.
The standards aren’t only controversial in North Carolina. Twenty-two of the 29 states with such mandates in place have considered changing those laws over the past two years.