April 10, 2013: A little more detail on the new version of House Bill 298. (For some reason, it took a week for the version approved in committee last Wednesday to be posted on the General Assembly website).
Instead of immediately repealing the entire 2007 renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS) requirement, the bill would cap the amount of electric generation to be met by renewable energy sources at 6% of 2014 retail sales and sunset the REPS requirement in 2018. The 2007 legislation (Senate Bill 3) required the electric utilities to generate 6% of 2014 retail sales using renewable energy sources by 2015 and then increased the REPS goal to 10% of retail sales by 2018 and 12.5% of retail sales from 2021 on. SB 298 cuts the renewable energy goal in half and the 2018 sunset means that the electric utilities could abandon even the 6% renewable energy target after 2018.
● The amount of the REPS requirement that could be met with energy efficiency measures would immediately increase from 25% to 50%
● Existing hydropower facilities could be used to meet the REPS goal. Since both Duke Energy and Progress Energy generate a significant amount of electricity from hydropower facilities, the change may allow existing hydropower to crowd out new renewable energy sources.
● Removes the set-aside for solar energy. (HB 298 repeals a Senate Bill 3 provision requiring the electric utiltiies to supply at least two-tenths of one percent of the electric power sold to retail customers from 2018 on through a combination of new solar electric facilities and new metered solar thermal energy facilities.) The bill keeps the Senate Bill 3 set-asides for energy generated by swine and poultry waste – although those set-asides would sunset in 2018 with the REPS requirement.
● Requires any contract between an electric utility and a renewable energy company to end by December 31, 2018 for purposes of cost-recovery.
Although the bill looks less like immediate repeal of the REPS requirement, the effect would be the same. New renewable energy sources could be crowded out by existing hydropower and energy efficiency even before the REPS requirement ended in 2018. Swine and poultry waste would continue to have a set-aside through 2018 — but uncertainty beyond 2018 would make construction of waste-to-energy facilities a very risky business. In the end, the bill would completely undermine the Senate Bill 3 goal of encouraging development of new renewable sources of energy in the state as a source of energy security and job creation.