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Bill Would Limit Local Clean Energy

Pro-polluter legislation recently introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly would make it much tougher for local communities to transition to clean energy. House Bill 220, the so-called “Assuring Choice of Energy Service” bill, will be heard in the state House Committee on Energy and Public Utilities this week.

H220 would bar municipalities and counties from adopting any ordinance that “has the effect of prohibiting” an energy customer from connecting or expanding an “energy service” based on the type of energy to be used. The bill specifically names natural gas and oil as protected service sources.

Critics say the bill is intended to block local governments from implementing clean energy plans which press for transition from gas building heat to electric, via the use of tools such as updated building codes. Climate action advocates charge that the bill’s restrictions would make it effectively impossible for communities to implement 100% clean energy plans on the local level. 

Under its current legislative mismanagement, North Carolina is used to being targeted by multistate pro-polluter campaigns designed to block effective state and local leadership. This bill is the latest in a coordinated nationwide push by the natural gas industry to preempt local clean energy efforts.

According to an update from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Local governments are often clean air and climate leaders, taking action to reduce the carbon footprint of everything from the electricity that powers their economies to the buildings their residents live, work, and play in. The fossil fuel industry backed bills proposed thus far in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah will prevent local decision-making over the fuels used to power homes and other buildings.”

The NRDC article continues, “Buildings are fossil fuel guzzlers that are responsible for about one-third of the gas consumed in the United States each year. This fossil gas (also known as “natural gas”) is used mostly for space and water heating. To address the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from burning fossil gas in buildings, municipalities across the country have been using their authorities over building energy codes to incentivize new construction that uses more efficient, cleaner, and healthier electric technologies.”

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