The North Carolina General Assembly’s Public Utilities and Energy Committee voted down its chairman’s own bill, HB 298, in a bipartisan vote of 18 to 13.
Six Republican members, including three from GOP leadership, joined with Democrats to defeat the measure, commonly known as the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) repeal bill.
The REPS law was originally passed in 2007 and has garnered praise for North Carolina as a progressive energy state in the South. The law requires utilities to generate 3 percent of their retail sales from renewable energy sources or efficiency efforts, with that percentage increasing over time to 6 percent in 2015 and 12.5 percent in 2021 and following years. But earlier this month a REPS repeal bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), who said he doesn’t think ratepayers should have to subsidize renewable energy.
“The vote’s outcome and the fact that it occurred in the committee chaired by the bill’s own sponsor, Mike Hager, not only helps to secure a path forward for continued economic development in the renewable energy sector, it also showed the strength of the voices from across the state that spoke out against the misguided effort to have North Carolina turn away from a promising clean energy future,” according to a statement from NC Sustainable Energy Association.
The timing of the bill was awkward. While the North Carolina legislature was advancing a bill against renewables, Google announced a partnership with Duke Energy to generate more renewable energy in the state. Ironically, the REPS repeal bill served to galvanize support in the NC Assembly for renewable energy.