N.C. lawmaker questions state's renewable portfolio standard

Renewable energy companies are confident that lawmakers won't freeze North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standard.

Renewable energy companies are confident that lawmakers won't freeze North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standard. 

North Carolina’s alternative energy companies are confident that the state will continue raising quotas for utilities’ use of solar power and other renewable resources, despite a leading legislator’s suggestion that they be frozen at or near current levels.

“Rep. (Mike) Hager seems to be one of the few, maybe the only one, publicly asking for rollbacks of this highly successful energy policy,” Betsy McCorkle, director of government affairs for the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, wrote in an e-mail on Nov. 30.

Passed in 2007, the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards require investor-owned utilities such as Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) and its Progress Energy Carolinas subsidiary to generate 3 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. That quota’s scheduled to rise to 7.5 percent by 2021. Utilities will have to offset another 5 percent of electricity use by improved efficiency.

The law set similar quotas for municipal utilities and rural utility cooperatives.

“The NC Legislature passed the REPS in 2007 with overwhelming bipartisan support to allow limited competition for renewable energy in a monopoly-controlled electricity market,” McCorkle wrote.

Hager, a Republican who chairs his chamber’s Public Utilities Committee, may propose freezing the total somewhere between 3 percent and the full 12.5 percent. Hager said he’s getting feedback from members of both parties and that he’s open to other options that limit costs to ratepayers, whose electricity bills include a line item for funding utilities’ use of renewable energy.

Read more in the Triangle Business Journal.

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