Statement by the Southern Environmental Law Center regarding N.C. House Bill 951
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Southern Environmental Law Center today issued the following statement regarding N.C. House Bill 951 as announced by Governor Cooper and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) on October 1. The bill is scheduled to be heard by two committees in the North Carolina Senate today.
While the Southern Environmental Law Center strongly supports the goals to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution in House Bill 951 and appreciates the efforts to negotiate a bipartisan energy bill, we are concerned that the current bill will not achieve those reductions and fails to spread the clean energy transition to include low-income customers.
Negotiating such an important policy for North Carolina should involve all stakeholders. An unfortunate result of excluding stakeholder input is a bill that risks failing to achieve our state’s carbon-reduction goals while exposing electricity customers to the risk of utility “gold-plating” of investments in what should be an affordable transition to low-cost, clean, renewable energy. Such significant legislation should not be rushed through the General Assembly without more thorough vetting.
Proper regulatory oversight and authority is essential, but the Senate Proposed Committee Substitute to H951 should place the obligation to achieve state carbon-reduction goals where it belongs–on our electric utilities, just as previous major energy bills like the Clean Smokestacks Act, the N.C. Renewable and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, and the Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy program have done. The bill should also include provisions to provide bill-payment assistance and comprehensive energy-efficiency programs for low-income customers. Meanwhile, SELC will continue to advocate for swift action by the Department of Environmental Quality to develop rules enabling North Carolina to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a proven approach that will help our state to achieve our carbon-reduction targets in a way that is cost-effective and fair to electricity ratepayers.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 170, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. www.southernenvironment.org