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Frequently Asked Questions about Renewable Energy in North Carolina

Posted By Allison Eckley, Monday, June 01, 2015

Do I have the option to buy power directly from a renewable energy company or another company of my choice? 


No. North Carolina has a highly-regulated electricity market where only utilities can sell power directly to consumers, which was established by the 1965 Territory Act. This is why when you move to a new house or apartment, the utility assigned to that area is your only choice for an electricity provider. This monopoly limits innovation and market competition. 



How many people in North Carolina work directly in the clean energy industry?


22,995 as of 2014. This represents jobs in the geothermal, biomass, wind, energy effficiency, solar, and hydropower sectors. This does not include many of the indirect jobs that are created by this growing industry.  From 2012 to 2014, employment in the industry increased from 15,200 to 22,995 FTE (full-time equivalent); an annual increase of 25%.

How much money has been invested in renewable energy projects in North Carolina?


Over $2.6 billion as of 2014.


How much of that investment has been in the rural or economically depressed areas of our state? Tier 1 and Tier 2 Counties?


Over $1.9 billion (75% of total investment) as of 2014.

What about the tax credit for renewable energy projects? What's the return on investment for that?

In North Carolina, tax credits taken by taxpayers who developed renewable energy projects between 2007 and 2014 returned $1.54 to state or local government revenue for every $1.00 of incentive. In addition, these resulting renewable energy projects constitute long-lasting energy infrastructure. 



Is renewable energy and energy efficiency causing electricity rates to increase?


No – just the opposite. Diversifying our energy mix to include more renewable energy and energy efficiency has cost ratepayers less than if we had continued to meet our needs with only conventional energy. The NC Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates utilities that provide water, gas, and electricity, has said that renewable generation provides fuel price hedging benefits that put downward pressure on rising energy costs (source: Docket No. E-100 Sub140).


The utilities’ compliance with the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) is expected to save ratepayers $651 million by 2029. In 2014, the average residential customer saved over $8 due to the REPS.



What else should I know about renewable energy in North Carolina? 

In under a decade the clean energy industry in North Carolina has grown from individual entrepreneurs to small businesses to multi-state enterprises. This homegrown industry wants to keep its roots in our state and export their goods and services to other Southeast states who have enacted policies to replicate NC's successes.


Clean energy policies, such as the REPS and Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit, are promoting an environment for job creation and industry success that benefits all North Carolinians. 


Fortune 500 companies (Facebook, WalMart, Google, Apple, etc.), universities, the U.S. military and other large consumers of clean energy are becoming more engaged in public policy changes that will allow them to meet their clean energy goals in the Southeast.

How can I make sure the savings from clean energy continue in North Carolina?


Because of the monopoly granted to utilities, policies like the REPS law are the closest thing we have to a free market. Protecting these policies, which help attract investment and spur innovation while providing jobs and long-term economic opportunities in our state, is of utmost importance. 

Please reach out to your legislators and tell them that “Renewable Energy is Working for North Carolina” and that you support North Carolina’s continued leadership in clean energy investment and job creation!  You can reach your legislators by following this link

Tags:  clean energy  ncga  ncleg  ncpol 

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