NC Legislature News

HB 760 is a NC regulatory reform bill. The bill passed the 3rd reading in the House on May 6th, 2015 by a 77-32 vote. The bill is now in the Senate, where it passed its first reading on May 7th, 2015.
Republican representatives Chris Millis, John Bell, and Dennis Riddell are the primary sponsors of HB 760. The bill also has support from the lobbyist group Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch Brothers.
HB 760 has multiple regulation reforms. For example HB 760 contains a section that eliminates a provision that requires non-profits to cover workers compensation insurance for volunteers. Additionally, HB 760 has language that would lower safety restrictions on riparian buffers for water supply quality.
However, Section 3B of HB 760, regarding renewable energy caps, is receiving most of the media’s attention. HB 760 caps electricity bills to have a maximum fee of $12 annually for renewable energy costs. The bill also puts a freeze on Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (“REPS”) at 6% for 2016. Currently, NC was planning on growing its REPS to be 12.5% by 2020. Furthermore, HB 760 requires the NC Energy Council perform an electric grid study.
The proponents of HB 760 argue that the freeze will allow consumers to not be forced to pay additional costs for renewable energy that they may not be using. Currently, in an attempt to develop the renewable energy in NC, utility companies are forced to buy the energy generated from solar power companies and resell it consumers at lower or even negative rates.
However, opponents of the bill argue that this will eliminate jobs in renewable energy and harm the $5 billion dollar renewable energy sector in NC. Most opponents believe this is a great leap backwards from positive strides in clean energy away from dated fossil fuels.
The bill will still need to pass two more readings and be signed by Pat McCrory before it becomes law. The current NC legislative sessions is TBD, but it may take some time considering the NC General Assembly has yet to pass a budget.
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Reinhard von Hennigs