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Red States Lead on Renewables

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The Beetle 4.0 MW solar project in Mooresboro, North Carolina. Cypress Creek Renewables

A sweeping bipartisan bill to reform energy policies and encourage the growth of renewable energy was introduced by conservative lawmakers in the North Carolina legislature this week. The consensus bill, the result of months of negotiations, would grant utilities' request to reform various renewable energy laws, but includes incentives for the solar industry, including solar rebates and third-party leasing.


The bill will go to a full vote in the House this week, where it could face blowback from climate change skeptics despite its significant Republican support. North Carolina isn't the only red state pushing the envelope on renewable energy: as a new piece in the New York Times points out, "some of the fastest progress on clean energy is occurring in states led by Republican governors and legislators, and states carried by Donald J. Trump in the presidential election."

The measure passed House Finance Tuesday, shortly before Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement supporting it:

"This legislation will help North Carolina stay ahead with lower cost renewable energy that protects our environment and grows our economy. I urge the Legislature to pass it and I commend everyone who worked so hard to get this agreement," Cooper wrote.

Over the last four years, North Carolina has become the nation's second largest solar market, with California first.

As reported by WRAL:

"Among other things, the measure would lift the state's ban on third-party leasing, allowing customers to rent the equipment for rooftop and community solar arrays, substantially reducing the upfront cost. It would also promote net metering, which gives the owner of a residential or commercial property with solar panels a bill credit for the retail cost of energy he or she puts back onto the grid, and it would include a solar rebate program for residential customers. And it would mandate a study on energy storage technology for intermittent sources like solar and wind."

For a deeper dive:

NC bill: AP, WRAL, News & Observer, Charlotte Business Journal, North State Journal. Red states & renewables: New York Times

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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