SAS Institute, Inc. – a North Carolina-Based technology company – has joined big names like
Apple, Facebook, and Google in a growing chorus of high-profile tech firms urging lawmakers to protect North Carolina’s burgeoning clean energy economy.
SAS told state lawmakers in a recent letter: “Technology companies value North Carolina’s existing energy policies, which enable us to operate and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.”
At stake is North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021.The REPS and other thoughtful clean energy policies have helped create new markets that are attracting investments, building businesses, and creating jobs. The results are impressive.
North Carolina’s clean energy industry is growing
Today, North Carolina’s clean energy industry includes more the 1,200 firms providing nearly 23,000 jobs. In 2014, the industry generated nearly $5 billion in gross revenues for the state’s economy.
Much like North Carolina’s world-class university system, the growing clean energy economy makes the state an attractive choice for business leaders who are looking for the right place to invest and grow their businesses. Read More
Pop quiz: What do current and former executives at Apple, Facebook, Google, Bank of America, and Duke Energy have in common?
Answer: They all believe in expanding renewable energy in North Carolina, where the legislature proposes to gut the clean energy policies that have made the state a national leader in solar energy.
At stake is the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021. Lawmakers want to freeze the target at six percent, which happens to be the current level.
Not so fast, say the tech giants
Apple, Facebook, and Google have data centers and other investments in North Carolina – and they are big supporters of clean energy in their industry. They made their position on the REPS perfectly clear in a recent letter to state lawmakers: Read More
During the next five years, 200,000 service members will transition from active duty military to civilian life. They will need jobs. The solar industry is booming and needs skilled workers. The math is simple.
The recently announced Solar Ready Vets program aims to help transitioning service members pursue training in the solar industry, which is adding 30,000 jobs a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Solar Ready Vets will focus on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers and build on the technical skills that veterans acquired during service. Solar Ready Vets is part of a larger DOE initiative to train 75,000 people for the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom are also veterans.
Initially, Solar Ready Vets will roll out at 10 military bases across the United States. Four bases in Colorado, California, Utah, and Virginia have been identified, and the other six will be selected based on the number of transitioning military personnel and strength of the solar market, among other things. Read More
Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.
The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:
- Some of the country’s largest retailers – Walmart, Lowes, Target, Family Dollar, and Macy’s
- Major manufacturers – Volvo, textile giant VF, Unilever, and New Belgium Brewing
- Agriculture commodities giant Cargill
North Carolina’s current law prohibits companies from contracting with energy providers other than utilities. It’s easy to understand how that law squashes consumer choice and competition.
The 10 companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from providers other than utilities like Duke Energy and Dominion. Greater choice in the North Carolina electricity market would provide a wide range of benefits. For example, companies and homeowners would be able to lease rooftop solar panels from clean energy providers at little to no upfront cost and lock in long-term, stable electricity rates. Read More
North Carolina’s number-one ranking in the Southeast for solar energy investment confirms the state is a national leader in attracting clean energy companies and creating jobs. But a top ranking does not fully reflect the broad range of benefits North Carolina’s large-scale solar industry is delivering to the state's manufacturing sectors and rural communities.
Now a report from Duke University documents how the state’s solar industry is boosting the bottom line of companies and communities across North Carolina.
The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina credits state policies such as the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit with stimulating economic development.
It highlights a recent economic impact assessment by RTI International showing that for every dollar of Investment Tax Credit redeemed by businesses, $1.93 has been returned to state and local governments. That’s a great deal for North Carolina.
The report spotlights three key findings: Read More
North Carolina’s ranking of #3 in the country for solar energy investment is receiving national attention and prompting some states in the Southeast to ask, "What is North Carolina's secret?"
The answer: clean energy policies that give solar companies the business certainty they need to make investments.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission did just that in an important ruling last week that keeps standard solar electricity purchase agreements in place. These contracts between utilities and solar developers typically last 15 years and cover solar projects up to five megawatts. They can make all the difference in whether a solar project is built and in a solar developer’s ability to grow and hire new workers.
Duke Energy and other North Carolina utilities sought to weaken the terms of these standard agreements, which are set by the Utilities Commission. The utilities asked the Commission to abandon requirements that they enter into long-term agreements with solar developers and sought to eliminate the ability of larger solar projects to participate. Read More