I testified on HB 951, Energy Solutions for North Carolina this week before both the Senate Ag/Energy/Enviro Committee and the Senate Rules Committee. Here are my prepared remarks:
Energy policy. This is confusing, complex and complicated stuff. Stakeholders, shareholders, special interests bargain for months. Energy policy has deep implications for economic growth, impacts every business and every family across North Carolina. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds, caught up in the rhetoric and lose perspective. For the John Locke Foundation it comes down to one thing – the lowest cost, most reliable energy source. The short title for House Bill 951 is Energy Solutions for North Carolina. And that’s exactly what it does – offer solutions. Here are some examples:
- North Carolina is a national leader in nuclear-generated electricity and should remain so with subsequent renewal for all its nuclear plants.
- It leaves the door open for new nuclear facilities, which is in line with recommendations from our energy report. Nuclear is the most efficient source as well as being a zero-emissions source.
- It calls for making sure any fuel-generation changes at least maintain if not improve the adequacy and reliability of the existing grid and promote “least-cost” “path to compliance” with the emissions reductions — both of which, if followed to the letter, would have to result in more nuclear and natural gas rather than bogging the grid down with too much inefficient and unreliable solar and wind generation. (Also in line with our energy paper.)
- It would require proper decommissioning of solar facilities, which is a standard environmental practice for other land uses and something we have recommended for years but the solar lobby has fought off.
- In pursuing the 70 percent reduction goal, North Carolina cannot sacrifice reliability. Fortunately the bill states to “ensure any generation and resource changes maintain or improve upon the adequacy and reliability of the existing grid” will hold that standard if faithfully adhered to.
- Preserves the authority of the Utilities Commission, and consequently public overview, that was stricken by earlier versions of the bill.
- It makes least cost, most reliable the driving force in energy selection.
- HB 951 marks an improvement over earlier proposals. The John Locke Foundation continues to support energy policies that focus on what’s best for the consumer: access to low-cost, reliable energy.