Legislature Locks in Home Energy Waste

NC General Assembly fails Carolinians once again.

In a move designed to reward a major pro-polluter lobby in Raleigh, the NC General Assembly overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of HB 488, which locks in old wasteful energy standards for new home construction until at least 2030. Homeowners in North Carolina will suffer growing higher energy bills as a direct result.

In the words of Governor Cooper when he vetoed the HB 488, “This bill stops important work to make home construction safer from disaster and more energy efficient, and ultimately will cost homeowners and renters more money. The bill also imperils North Carolina’s ability to qualify for FEMA funds by freezing residential building code standards. Not only does the bill wipe out years of work to make homes safer and more affordable, it also violates the Constitution by rigging the way rules are made.”

“This bill is another example where these legislators are not representing the hardworking families of North Carolina, but are more obsessed with giving government handouts to corporations that will help them stay in power,” said Dan Crawford, Director of Governmental Relations at NCLCV. “We need legislators from both parties to stand up against the lobbying of big-money corporations. By overriding this veto, legislators are choosing high utility bills for homeowners and renters for years to come – rewarding the utility monopolies, greedy developers and home builders who fund their campaigns. We are in the middle of hurricane season and the legislature is putting federal recovery funds at risk. We need leaders who will stand up for the people of North Carolina, not special interests.”

The NC Home Builders Association (NCHBA) pushed hard for HB 488, making exaggerated claims of higher construction costs if stronger energy-efficiency rules were to go into effect. They pushed those inflated cost claims even after objective third party studies showed that added costs to construction would be lower than claimed by NCHBA, and that homeowners would swiftly recoup those costs through lower energy bills.

The vote to override the Governor’s veto came along party lines in the NC Senate, with all Democrats voting to sustain the veto, and all Republicans voting to lock in higher home energy bills for years. In the NC House, all Republicans voted to override the veto, and were joined by six Democrats in supporting higher home energy bills. The Democrats voting in favor of overriding the veto of HB 488, and therefore in support of higher home energy bills, were Representatives Cecil Brockman (Guilford), Carla Cunningham (Mecklenburg), Nasif Majeed (Mecklenburg), Garland Pierce (Scotland), Shelly Willingham (Edgecombe), and Michael Wray (Northampton).

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