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North Carolina business leaders alarmed by attack on renewable energy

North Carolina business leaders alarmed by attack on renewable energy

House Bill Would Harm State's Economy, Pull Rug Out from Under Burgeoning Renewable Energy

Rolling back North Carolina's highly successful Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) will hurt the economy, hurt consumers and hurt job growth in the state, business owners and advocates said in a press conference call Monday.

As early as this week, lawmakers in North Carolina are expected to consider taking the next step toward repealing the REPS under House Bill 298. Ironically, attempts to repeal the renewable standard come just as the state is trumpeting its renewable energy growth at the 10th annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Betsy McCorkle, director of government affairs of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, said, "If H298 passes, it will virtually eliminate the market for new renewable energy projects, since a free market does not exist where clean energy can compete head to head with the utilities.  This will mean no new investments or jobs from clean energy in North Carolina.  We will lose our competitive advantage with other states, and the jobs and investments will start going to our neighbors in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. House Bill 298 signals that the rules are changing and clean energy investments are no longer welcome here."

Maria Kingery, co-founder of solar company Southern Energy Management in Morrisville, commented: "When we started our company in 2001, I could name three solar companies that existed in the state of North Carolina. There are now hundreds of solar companies in North Carolina. The REPS has had the exact effect it was intended to have. The solar market is maturing and we see evidence of that all around us. It has provided much needed jobs at a time when North Carolina most desperately needed job creation. We can continue to do that."

Michael Shore, CEO of FLS Energy in Asheville, noted that his solar company has invested more than $70 million in the state and created scores of jobs. The renewable standard, he said, has created the right environment in the state for economic growth: "None of this would have been possible without North Carolina making a commitment to clean energy. It has been hugely successful."

Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a nonprofit nonpartisan group that promotes policies that support environmentally sustainable economic growth, said, "According to E2's most recent clean energy and clean transportation jobs report, North Carolina was No. 2 and second only to California in job announcements in those sectors for all of 2012. That's huge. These are the types of good-paying jobs that will go to other states if North Carolina repeals its renewable standard."

For background information on North Carolina's renewable energy standard and attempts to repeal it, see the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's Web site here: www.energync.org

For more details on the economic impacts of North Carolina's renewable standard, see the report from RTI International and La Capra Associates here.

E2's annual clean energy and clean transportation jobs report.

And for examples of clean energy and clean transportation job announcements in North Carolina last year, see E2's searchable database here.

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