New sources of clean energy do not just benefit our state’s environment and the health of our citizens. Clean energy also creates jobs in our state, and serves as a powerful and growing source of economic development.
In 2015, more than 26,000 North Carolinians worked in the clean energy sector of our economy and clean energy activities in our state brought in $7 billion in revenue.1 Our economy is also experiencing tremendous growth in the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings, a trend that delivers even more clean energy jobs.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission should consider expanding consumer access to financing programs for energy efficiency projects.
One such program is “on-bill” financing, a financing mechanism through which the up-front cost of energy-saving improvements or equipment are funded by the electric utility or a third-party financier, and consumers pay down the cost through a monthly payment on their electric bill.
North Carolina should take a multi-pronged approach to promoting wind energy.
We need to streamline the approval process for the production of wind power by establishing clear guidelines for approval and eliminating redundant reviews and regulations. We also need to remove all barriers that block companies from selling wind energy produced outside of our state, while at the same time ensuring that such a change is in the best interest of our state’s energy consumers. A successful project could help North Carolina take the lead in offshore wind-power generation, and could lead to a spike in clean energy jobs along our coast.
Reinstate the Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
North Carolina has the most solar capacity in the Southeast. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, North Carolina ranks fourth in solar installations and has created 7,800 jobs and $4.8 billion in annual gross revenues.2 A major engine propelling this growth has been North Carolina's Solar Tax Credit, which the NC General Assembly allowed to expire in 2015. Reinstating the renewable energy tax credit will help North Carolina to continue leading the nation in solar development, benefiting jobs, air quality and our environment.
1 Aldina, Robin, Pierce Few, and Ivan Urlaub. (2015). North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Census. North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.
2 Aldina, Robin, Ellis Baehr, William Supple, and Ivan Urlaub. (February 2015). 2014 North Carolina Clean Energy Industry Census. North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.