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While the General Assembly is currently focused on smoothing the road to drill for natural gas in North Carolina, a new report shows the economic value clean energy has brought to our state over the past five years.

The report was prepared by Research Triangle Institute and LaCapra Associates.

Some of the key findings:

Clean energy programs created or retained over 21,000 jobs.

The clean energy industry and government incentives spurred $1.4 billion in project investments.

These projects contributed about $1.7 billion to the gross state product.

Clean energy and energy efficiency projects saved 8.2 million megawatt hours of energy.

For every $1 spent on renewable projects, $1.90 was generated for that investment. For energy efficiency projects, $1.67 was generated for that investment.

Finally, rate payers benefit from renewables and energy efficiency programs.  A typical NC residential customer saved $.50 per month last year and that is expected to only rise if our state continues to lead in this industry.

Earlier this year the Washington Post reported that the conservative Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were considering a strategy to repeal North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES).  Our state has the only RES legislation in the south. This legislation requires utilities to  hold a portion of their energy portfolio in renewables.   This legislation and incentive programs are the reason for the healthiness of the renewable energy industry.  As the governor and legislature focus on job creation and economic development, this part of the energy sector now has a strong and proven track record and should be encouraged to grow.

 

 

 

 

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Add this upcoming (April 18) Sierra Club event to your calendars if you can:

Offshore Wind Forum Spotlights NC’s Potential

RALEIGH, NC – Marcilynn Burke, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior, will be in Raleigh next Wednesday to talk about North Carolina’s offshore wind resource.  Ms. Burke oversees the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which has jurisdiction over offshore wind leases.   The first lease blocks in federal waters off North Carolina’s coast may become available this year. Read More

On national MLK day, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) launched a 5-state, $6 million TV and social media campaign aimed at the President in the run up to this year’s election. AFP says it will focus its efforts in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, spending $1 million in our state. ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that the Koch Brothers (David Koch is the AFP founder) are among the campaign donors and don’t forget that conservative, deep pockets Art Pope, president of Variety Wholesalers based in Henderson, is a board of Director for the national AFP.

For those unfamiliar with AFP, it describes itself as a grassroots organization advocating for public policies that “champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” For example, they are responsible for the attack on then President Obama’s green jobs czar Van Jones, creating Tea Party rallies against global warming policies with funding from big oil and supporting activities in Wisconsin to deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers (where Koch Industries was among the largest contributors to Governor Scott Walker’s campaign). Does this sound like grassroots to you?

ABC’s Tapper fact checked the Anti-Obama ad and provides a critique. While I cannot deny that the Solyndra loan had its problems, AFP is using it to continue its attack on clean energy and government subsidies. Yet AFP is fine with big oil, gas, coal and nuclear subsidies from the feds – subsidies that continue our fossil fuel addiction and in the case of nuclear are very high risk guaranteed loans.

 

 

Today the US House of Representatives debates the proposed TRAIN Act which attempts to bar the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing regulations to reduce air pollution from power plants across state lines and curbing mercury and other toxic emissions.  Twenty seven east coast states, including NC, would be affected by the Cross-State Air Pollution rule; the mercury rule would affect many industries across the country. Without these rules, our health, the economy and the future of clean energy take a giant step backward.

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Things are turning around.

As of today, 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush, which came out of the Bush-Cheney energy plan of 2001. This news comes as President Obama is at the G8 summit in Italy discussing action on global warming. As other countries like China say they will not act until the U.S. does, these 100 stopped plants are a sign from Americans. We are taking action against global warming, and it’s time to join us.

More than 400 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution, a main cause of global warming, have been kept out of the air annually as a result of stopping these 100 plants. This is a tremendous achievement that is helping us meet the pollution reductions scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. It also demonstrates an undeniable trend of American communities moving beyond coal and towards clean, renewable energy.

In many places – including NC – a shift to clean energy is now underway. Recent reports indicate green job growth is doing well despite our state’s tough economic climate (report, report, and a few more).

At the beginning of the coal rush, it seemed inevitable that most of the 150 new proposed coal plants would get built. Since then we’ve seen an incredible change in the way people, businesses and governments are thinking about energy; we’re figuring out how to generate and use it more cleanly and efficiently.

In North Carolina, though, the fight against Cliffside continues.