Critics of North Carolina’s clean energy industry recently bought some radio ads asking state lawmakers who support North Carolina’s clean energy policies to change their minds and turn their backs on this growing industry. These opponents mistakenly argue our state’s clean energy policies burden North Carolinians with rising energy costs that hurt families and cost the state jobs. These claims are baseless.
Yes, energy costs in North Carolina have increased – $40 or $50 per month for many households since 2001. But the growth of renewable energy is not the reason why. Conventional energy sources like coal are getting more expensive, accounting for as much as 84 percent of this increase.
The truth is, renewable energy is helping to slow rising energy costs, saving North Carolina electricity customers $162 million since 2007. And while clean energy continues to grow, so will the savings for our state’s families and businesses – delivering nearly half a billion dollars in additional savings over the next 15 years.
North Carolina’s clean energy policies are also creating jobs, building businesses, and strengthening our state’s economy. In the last few years, our state’s clean energy industry has experienced tremendous growth with employment increasing 25 percent annually between 2012 and 2014. Today, the industry includes more than 1,200 firms and provides nearly 23,000 jobs that help put food on the table for thousands of North Carolina families. Last year, clean energy businesses and workers generated nearly $5 billion in gross revenues for the state’s economy.
And there’s more good news. The growing success of North Carolina’s clean energy industry is creating positive ripple effects. Much like the state’s world-class university system, our clean energy economy makes North Carolina an attractive choice for business leaders who are looking for the right place to invest and grow their businesses.
Earlier this year, tech-giants Google, Apple, and Facebook told lawmakers that our state’s renewable energy standards “made North Carolina particularly attractive to [their] businesses.” More recently, SAS Institute, Inc. – a North Carolina-based technology company – told state lawmakers: “Technology companies value North Carolina’s existing energy policies, which enable us to operate and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.”
Joining technology companies are some of our country’s largest retailers and major manufacturers, who are asking North Carolina’s leaders to do more than just protect existing clean energy policies. These companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from energy providers other than large monopoly utilities. They want lawmakers to repeal antiquated state laws that stifle competition in the energy market. Opening the market to competition will give customers – businesses and families – the freedom to choose where they buy energy and expand access to options like rooftop solar.
Much to the chagrin of its detractors, clean energy is a growing and increasingly important part of North Carolina’s economy, its benefits are widespread, and businesses are calling for even more. Clean energy is expanding, creating jobs, and saving families and businesses money. It’s bringing new investments to the state and growing the tax base in rural areas that have struggled economically. It’s giving North Carolina a competitive advantage over other states, helping to make us an attractive choice for industries to locate, invest, and build businesses.
North Carolina lawmakers will serve our state well by supporting clean energy policies.
Photo Source: Steve Exum, exumphoto.com