Over the last decade North Carolina has experienced rapid growth in clean energy sources such as solar and wind. At the same time, the oversight of our utility companies has seen little change. Our current system for energy regulation ties energy utility revenue to the consumption of energy. That incents utilities to limit consumer choice, devalue customer service, and address every energy challenge by building more power plants.
It is time to change the way we regulate our utility companies. Our focus should not be on the construction of new power plants, but instead should take into account the growth of clean sources of power and the importance of reducing our demand for energy. Moreover, our state needs to ensure that each citizen has the right to know how energy is being created and delivered. More control and certainty needs to be put into the hands of the energy consumer, a change that will enable each consumer to meet his/her own need and protect private property in the process.
Establish a commission on the Future of Energy to explore how North Carolina can reduce the amount of energy it consumes.
To meet the changes in the way that energy is produced and consumed, we must change the way utility companies are regulated and compensated. In order to do this, we must bring every stakeholder to the table to determine how best to create and put in place a modern flexible framework for our energy sector, how best to devise a regulatory approach that works for North Carolina and embraces the accelerating change in the energy economy, and how best to limit our state’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The first step should be to establish a commission on the future of energy that will include representation from each of the energy stakeholders - utilities, commercial and residential consumers, and all facets of the energy industry. Only after consensus among all stakeholders is reached to reform energy regulations will the General Assembly have the political will to make the necessary changes.