Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS) were introduced to North Carolina in 2007. The state joined numerous others around the country in diversifying the resources and technologies we use to reliably meet the energy needs of North Carolinians, while providing better energy security for the state by using local energy resources and creating new jobs statewide.
Since 2007 North Carolina has reaped the benefits of this program with tens of thousands of new jobs in the clean and renewable industry, and over $6 billion in direct investments in the state’s economy. All of this has been accomplished for less than $1.00 added to utility customers’ monthly bills.
The new energy policy was designed to encourage private investment in, and corporate support for, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from Murphy to Manteo. The new clean and renewable standards were also developed in the right way – with discussions and compromise between every company, government agency and consumer watchdog group involved in the production and use of electricity.
The legislation laid out a clear and reasonable path for energy production in North Carolina to move responsibly from a complete reliance on old traditional power generation to the emerging and improving systems provided by renewable sources.
Technology giants Apple, Google, and Facebook have invested billions in data-center facilities across the state, hundreds of millions in their own clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind farms, and created hundreds of jobs in some of the most economically depressed and rural areas of North Carolina."
REPS require the utility companies to generate a certain percentage of energy from clean and renewable sources. The required percentages started at the very low amount of 3% so that the power companies could adapt to the new laws, and slowly increases to 12.5% by 2021.
The law also gave the electric companies several options for complying with the standards, each of which goes towards improving and diversifying North Carolina’s energy industry:
- They can produce energy with clean and renewable sources by retro-fitting their current facilities to use these resources or by building new power plants.
- They can take credit for any excess energy on the grid that comes from private companies producing their own energy from renewable resources.
- And finally, any energy efficiency programs the electricity companies implement for their business and homeowner customers, such as Energy Star in North Carolina, count towards their overall requirements.
All of these improvements in the production and delivery of power to consumers and businesses across the state comes at an incredibly reasonable cost. After all the investments made by the major utility companies, and other entities producing their own energy from renewable sources, the additional monthly cost to you and your neighbors is less than a dollar per month.
The benefits to the state in the first decade of the REPS program are clear:
- They have diversified the resources and technologies used to meet our energy needs, while providing energy security for the state by using local resources for more of the our needs.
- Prompted energy-efficiency programs, like Energy Star and LEED, creating opportunities for those that provide efficient equipment and build efficient facilities.
- Traditional power companies, like Duke Energy, have invested heavily in new technologies and renewable energy facilities, adding revenue to the state coffers and creating jobs statewide.
Critics claim that the REPS requirements are an expensive mandate that are somehow an extraordinary expense for North Carolina electricity customers. That’s just flat wrong.
Whenever a utility company builds another power plant, traditional or renewable, they pass along the costs to North carolina ratepayers. Whether it’s a new coal-fired plant or an offshore wind farm, the costs are ultimately borne by the power company’s customers.
For less than a dollar per month from each North Carolinian, the REPS program has spawned tremendous economic impact across the state and has generated $6.3 billion in economic impact to our state.