NORTH CAROLINA, August 2, 2017 - North Carolina’s energy rules will undergo big changes with Gov. Roy Cooper signing House Bill 589 into law. The bill, also known as Competitive Energy Solutions, modernizes state policy to provide ratepayers with competitive costs and encourages a continued development of renewables.
“Modernizing North Carolina’s energy grid with a pro-growth approach will protect ratepayers and power North Carolina’s economy forward,” said Rep. Tim Moore. “We’re helping North Carolina remain a national leader in renewable power and job growth by making clean energy more accessible and affordable to average citizens.”
H.B. 589 implements a competitive bidding process for solar developers to control costs and foster market-driven solutions for power customers. It also creates a Green Source Rider Program, which allows large utility customers to purchase the type of energy that makes the most sense for their customers and employees. In addition, the program will provide an economic tool to recruit and maintain jobs at businesses that have increasingly-common sustainability goals.
“Installing a competitive process for purchasing renewable energy benefits power customers and protects the reliability of North Carolina’s energy grid,” said Rep. Dean Arp, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Competitive Energy Solutions creates a solar leasing program where customers can work with private parties to take advantage of a competitive market to install renewable energy with competitive pricing. The plan encourages the development of rooftop and other solar energy projects by making them more accessible and cost-effective for consumers through community and third-party leasing energy programs. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), was pleased with new law.
“The programs created by this legislation, namely the competitive solicitation process for new utility scale solar and the addition of a rooftop solar leasing program, will help North Carolina retain its position as a top market for solar in the United States,” Ross said. “Unfortunately, the last-minute inclusion of an 18-month wind moratorium was both unnecessary and disappointing and we hope the governor’s executive order can help mitigate that portion of the bill. We stand by our colleagues in the wind industry and hope that legislators will see the positive economic development that both solar and wind offer to rural North Carolina.”
The 18-month moratorium on wind power development was included to allow a study of the impact of turbines on military operations. In the end, Gov. Cooper felt the solar benefits were just too good to pass up.
"This bill is critical for the future of significant increases in our already booming solar industry,” Cooper said. “I strongly oppose the ugly, last-minute, politically motivated wind moratorium. However, this fragile and hard fought solar deal will be lost if I veto this legislation and that veto is sustained."
The governor also signed Executive Order No. 11, which will allow wind energy facilities to come online quickly upon the moratorium’s expiration. The American Wind Energy Association issued a press release last month about the bill’s wind amendment.
“Over 53,000 wind turbines are in operation in 40 other U.S. states – some in close proximity to military bases – with no issues reported, no base missions harmed, and national security protected,” said Andrew Gohn, AWEA Eastern Region policy director. “The current Department of Defense wind-project review process works. As a result, no wind project has ever been built over the objection of the Department of Defense.”
North Carolina recently became the 41st state to host a utility-scale wind project. Though wind development is just getting started in the state, the industry already employs close to 2,000 Americans in N.C. with 26 active factories supplying the wind industry. The state is a national leader in renewable energy with a growing population of residential, industrial and commercial power customers.