Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers opposes repeal of NC renewable-energy law – Charlotte Business Journal
Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers on Thursday put himself squarely on the side of the North Carolina’s law promoting the use of renewable energy sources, as the law remains under attack in the N.C. General Assembly.
During a 90-minute question-and-answer period at Duke’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, Justin Danhof of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research asked Rogers about a bill in the N.C. legislature that would repeal the state’s renewable-energy requirements. Danhof cited a study that contends N.C. customers will pay “more than $2 billion in coming years” for the higher costs imposed by the use of renewables.
Rogers defended the N.C. law. He noted the 2007 legislation includes a provision that caps the amount of money a utility can spend on renewables to prevent large increases being passed on to customers. And he noted that 29 states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.
But he stopped short of stating a specific position at the meeting. He clarified at a press conference that followed.
“We still support (the renewables law) because it has the economic provision in it,” Rogers said. “Personally I support the renewable energy portfolio standard.”
Duke had not taken a specific position on the bill to eventually repeal the law. That measure was proposed in March by state Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), a former Duke employee. Lawmakers had asked several times during committee meetings what Duke’s position was, since it had supported passage of the renewable-energy standards almost six years ago. The clearest answer before Rogers’ statement was that the company wanted to defend its ability to continue to recover its costs for procuring the renewable power it is already selling.
The proposal to end the mandates on renewables was approved by a House subcommittee two weeks ago, but it was shot down in another House committee last week. The proposal was resurrected in a Senate version of the bill approved Wednesday in a contested vote of the Senate Finance Committee.
The renewable-energy standard sets at escalating requirements for the use of renewable energy in the state. Right now, utilities must produce or purchase 3% of the power they sell from renewables. That rises to 12.5% by 2021 and remains at that level going forward.
There have been several versions of the repeal proposal. The version most damaging for renewables such as solar and biomass energy — and the one the Senate committee approved — would freeze the requirements at the current 3% level and then eliminated them entirely in 2023.