Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill on Thursday promoting solar energy in the state, but also issued an executive order encouraging wind energy development as well, despite an 18-month moratorium on wind energy facility production in the state.
The majority of the bill has not been controversial, but the moratorium on wind energy production included by the Senate after the House sent HB589 to their chamber turned the bill into a controversial one.
It was unclear if Cooper would sign the bill right up until his decision to sign the legislation on Thursday.
The moratorium on wind power development is meant to give the state time to study the impact of turbines on military operations, given that the state has such a high number of military facilities.
The moratorium is retroactive to January of this year.
Cooper’s executive order regarding wind energy says that wind projects can proceed through the initial permit stages “pre-application” phases and directs the state to do all it can to help them along.
Whether the order goes against the moratorium Cooper just signed into law remains to be seen.
Of signing the bill and the executive order, Cooper said, “A strong renewable energy industry is good for our environment and our economy. This bill is critical for the future of significant increases in our already booming solar industry. I strongly oppose the ugly, last minute, politically motivated wind moratorium. However, this fragile and hard fought solar deal will be lost if I veto this legislation and that veto is sustained. As I signed the bill into law today, I also signed Executive Order No. 11 that will mitigate the effects of the moratorium. This executive order directs DEQ to continue recruiting wind energy investments and to move forward with all of the behind the scenes work involved with bringing wind energy projects online, including reviewing permits and conducting pre-application review for prospective sites. I want wind energy facilities to come online quickly when this moratorium expires so our economy and our environment can continue to benefit.”
House leaders called the bill a modernized policy to “protect ratepayers with competitive costs” while also encouraging the continued development of renewable power sources.
“Modernizing North Carolina’s energy grid with a pro-growth approach will protect ratepayers and power North Carolina’s economy forward,” House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). “We’re helping North Carolina remain a national leader in renewable power and job growth by making clean energy more accessible and affordable to average citizens.”
Moore said that the bill, now law, “implements a market-driven approach to ensure North Carolina’s energy grid is dependable and cost-competitive to serve a growing state population with rapidly-innovating technology” and that the cost of power is key for businesses and families in the state.
Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) was one of the primary sponsors of the bill in the House.
“Installing a competitive process for purchasing renewable energy benefits power customers and protects the reliability of North Carolina’s energy grid,” Arp said.
Also influential in the passage of the bill in the House was Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland).
“This is a balanced compromise that encourages renewable energy development and lets free-market competition lead the way into North Carolina’s energy future,” Szoka said.