The North Carolina Senate recently passed Senate Bill 678: Promote Clean Energy, sponsored by Senators Paul Newton, Buck Newton, and David Craven. A commonsense and necessary piece of legislation that places nuclear power as part of a new “clean energy’ definition in statute, replacing current language that was exclusive to renewables and not holistic of other carbon-free forms of energy production.

Locke committed in its 2023 Legislative Agenda to ensuring the implementation of H.B. 951, including the promotion of reliable, least-cost energy policy decisions as N.C. moves forward in its energy future.

Any endeavor seeking to lower carbon emissions while also seeking to maintain the reliability of any energy grid must have nuclear power as part of the mix. Nuclear power produces zero carbon. It is safe and reliable. Additionally, the amount of land use required for a nuclear facility is substantially smaller versus the excessive amount of land required from solar and wind to adequately power the grid. Adding nuclear to the definitions of clean energy is not only conscious of reliability, a requirement in NC law, but it is environmentally conscious. 

Locke’s policy recommendations and work with lawmakers helped to ensure the passage of this bill in the Senate, which is now with the North Carolina House of Representatives for the committee process and floor votes.

S.B. 678 redefines the term “renewable energy” as “clean energy” and ensures that both nuclear and fusion energy is included in that term. It also ensures that energy companies within the state can meet the requirements of the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Standards (CEPS) requirements with the use of nuclear energy.

For more information on this policy endeavor and Locke’s advocacy at the General Assembly, please read this article by Jon Sanders, Director of Locke’s Center of Food, Power, and Life, detailing the bill and its importance, and see testimony in the Senate Rules Committee from Locke’s Government Affairs Manager, Andre Beliveau.

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Senate voted to pass S.B. 678 by a margin of 48-0. The Government Affairs Team will continue monitoring the progress of this bill as it goes through the processes of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.