Unfortunately, Senate Bill 3 started out as a renewable energy bill similar to House Bill 77 that I sponsored with Representatives Martin, Harrell, and Justice, became a broader base load financing bill. It contains provisions which make it easier to construct new nuclear and coal-fired power plants. The bill was the subject of months of negotiations, and it became clear that it would be difficult to pass an REPS without the utilities sweeteners. We worked hard with environmental, health, and public interest advocates to soften the baseload provisions and in the final analysis, the good outweighed the bad. The bill is expected to help cut our carbon emissions by 13 million tons and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The REPS will also expand the market for renewable energy, and is predicted to create as many as 20,000 jobs. Governor Easley signed the bill into law two weeks ago, and I am proud that
Sentate Bill 3 also changes our renewable energy tax credit to now allow a donor to a non-profit to take advantage of the tax credit that would otherwise be available to the non-profit. This should encourage churches and other non-profits to pursue more aggressive renewable energy options, such as solar panels.
Our budget ensures the future of the State Energy Office, the state's lead agency for energy programs and services, by appropriating nearly $2.7 million from the general fund for operating costs. Nearly $2 million of the money will be used for a utility savings initiative and to support the operation of energy centers at
A new law prevents municipalities or neighborhood associations from banning the use of solar panels. The panels use the heat of the sun to produce energy. They are sometimes banned because they are considered unsightly, but a bill, Senate Bill 670 signed into law last month prohibits outright bans while still allowing reasonable rules about where the panels can be located. Representative Susan Fisher and I sponsored the House companion, House Bill 1187.