May 2, 2013: A brief update on legislative action:
Renewable Energy. The House Public Utilities and Energy Committee did not take up House Bill 298 again (although it appeared on the committee calendar), but the Senate Finance Committee approved a Senate bill to repeal the renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS). Senate Bill 365 would sunset the renewable energy standard in 2023, but immediately caps the renewable energy portfolio standard at 3% of retail sales — a standard that both Duke Energy and Progress Energy have already met. (The 2007 legislation creating the renewable energy portfolio standard required Duke Energy and Progress Energy to meet 3% of retail sales with renewable energy or energy efficiency measures by 2012 and gradually increased the target to 12.5% of retail sales by 2021.) Senate Bill 365 keeps specific set-asides for energy generated by poultry and swine waste although renewable energy from those facilities (which are not yet in operation) will not be needed to meet a 3% REPS requirement. The Finance Committee vote to approve Senate Bill 365 became contentious as the committee chair ignored a member’s request for a show of hands and called a very close voice vote for the ayes. The Senate bill now goes to the Senate Commerce Committee. The House bill remains in the House Public Utilities and Energy Committee and could be brought up for another vote at any time.
Regulatory Reform. Senate Bill 612 passed the Senate, but only after several floor amendments. The most significant amendment removed language that would have eliminated the Neuse River and Tar Pamlico River stream buffer requirements. The bill still requires state environmental agencies to repeal all state rules that are more stringent than federal rules on the same subject. The bill now goes to the House.