North Carolina GOP Energy Reform Bill Passes House But Faces Opposition

North Carolina GOP Energy Reform Bill Passes House But Faces Opposition

Nothing says openness and transparency like a last minute midnight vote on a controversial energy bill that Duke Energy has been the driving force for with some legislators for months.

A 57- 49 vote came just after midnight last week for the Republican-backed House Bill 951. HB 951 is legislation that would deliver a number of regulatory changes — many of them weakening oversight authority over Duke’s spending, puts cost of new natural gas infrastructure for decades on customers, and gives Duke Energy $5 billion in profits on the backs of the North Carolinians who can least afford it.

  • House Bill 951 is a result of months of secret meetings between the House GOP, Duke Energy and a few other hand-picked stakeholders. The process excluded all Democrats, environmental activists and concerned North Carolinians.
  • “I don’t know how you can write or negotiate decadal changes to energy policy without having an environmental stakeholder in the room,” Dan Crawford of the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters said. “The bill that they came out with has been a sweetheart deal for Duke that would likely allow them to make more money than they already make.”
  • The backroom bill heavily supports what Duke Energy has been pushing for: construction of new fracked gas-burning power plants and gutting the authority of the NC Utilities Commission over Duke Energy’s spending.
  • “The House Republican energy legislation as currently written weakens the Utilities Commission’s ability to prevent unfair, higher electricity rates on consumers in the short run,” Gov. Roy Cooper spokesperson Ford Porter said Wednesday. “And in the long run, this bill falls short on clean energy, which will create jobs and contain costs. The governor encourages legislators to oppose this bill unless important changes are made to fix these significant problems.”

The Biden-Harris Administration and Governor Cooper have repeatedly acknowledged the need for equitable clean energy. Yet, instead of following Biden and Cooper’s lead in addressing the critical need for clean energy, Republican legislators and Duke Energy put together legislation behind closed doors that lines the pockets of shareholders, and takes money away from families and small businesses.

Bottom Line: 

For far too long, Duke Energy has gotten away with making North Carolinians foot the bill. 

From making customers pay for the majority of Duke Energy’s mess — which resulted in one of the biggest coal ash spills in the county due to their negligence — to now pushing legislation that will benefit the wealthy and their shareholders, it’s clear that Duke Energy could care less about North Carolinians and the environmental impacts their negligence causes.

Camilo Vergara

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