North Carolina’s proposed carbon reduction plan fails to meet the mark

Last year, in 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 951, which sets carbon reduction targets for the state, including 70% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Now, the North Carolina Utilities Commission is considering a proposed plan  which sets us up to fail to meet those targets from the very start. So we testified against it, here’s what we said. 

Hello commission and thank you for having us here tonight. My name is Katie Craig and I am the state director of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, NCPIRG. We are a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for the public interest and has been working to protect consumers and public health for over 50 years.

As a native North Carolinian, I have grown up seeing the effects that climate change has already begun to have on our state, its residents, and the places we love. From sea level rise, to increasing frequent and increasingly stronger hurricanes, to hotter summers every year, the effects of global warming are here now. 

Our reliance on dirty fossil fuels not only exacerbates this trend, but also harms air quality and public health, and is a bad deal for our consumers. 

Last year, by passing HB951, folks from both sides of the aisle came together to acknowledge the reality that we need to move to a clean energy future and set ambitious targets to help us do that. 

But now, 3 of the 4 proposed plans that sit in front of us today, fail to meet those targets from the start. And all of the plans continue our reliance on dirty energy sources that harm our planet, health, and wallets. 

We must not accept a plan that sets out to miss the targets from the start. The North Carolina Utilities Commission should ensure the carbon plan hits the target deadline of 70% reduction by 2030 and can do that by prioritizing these 5 things: 

  1. No new gas (including “natural” gas) – Rather than continuing to invest in dirty and increasingly unreliable oil and gas of any kind, we should make smarter choices and invest in energy efficient and 100% clean and renewable sources.
  2. Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)-  RGGI has been a proven tool to reduce power plant emissions, so far the program has cut the states’ power plant pollution in half compared to 2005 levels. Funds through RGGI can be used to improve energy efficiency, invest in renewable energy and more. And when states work together to cut pollution across party lines, we can make even more progress.
  3. Go big on investments in solar and protecting net metering- Based Environment North Carolina’s 2021 report, Renewables on the Rise, North Carolina is already a national leader in solar and between 2011-2021 saw the 3rd most solar growth of any state. We should lean into this strength and continue to protect solar and consumer incentives like net metering. 
  4. Speed up the timeline for offshore wind investments – Despite North Carolina’s first offshore wind leases already having taken place, Duke’s proposed plans don’t account for any offshore wind power until after 2030.  We can and must move more quickly to develop offshore wind infrastructure and the renewable energy it will bring.
  5. And avoid the regrettable substitution of nuclear power- Nuclear power is not a proven clean energy source and our reports have found that historic investments in nuclear have not panned out for consumers. 

Ultimately it is within the power of this body to decide how we best move towards a clean energy future. A healthier, safer future is possible, but only if we move fast. That is why it is essential the commission only consider adopting plans that meet the 2030 target and consider these proposed actions to ensure we do so. 
 
 
Photo Credit: “Renewable Energy Concept”, Public Domain, by Seagul on Pixabay

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Katie Craig

State Director, NCPIRG Education Fund

Katie directs NCPIRG's statewide campaign strategy, organizational development, research, communication and legislative advocacy efforts. Katie was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, and continues to live there now. When she’s not working, Katie enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

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