Environment North Carolina
Public News Service

RALEIGH, N.C. — Citizens, scientists, legislators and faith leaders are rallying for Earth Day this afternoon on the campus of North Carolina State University in support of legislation introduced this session calling for 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

State House Bill 767 and Senate Bill 513 would require the state energy office and the Public Utilities Commission to work together to develop a plan to achieve that goal and create new jobs in the renewable-energy industry. The bill is co-sponsored by Pricey Harrison, a Democrat from Guilford County, and a handful of other legislators.

The 2050 deadline is based on a Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley study that concluded current technologies could shift the United States energy supply to entirely renewable sources within the next three decades. Drew Ball, director of Environment North Carolina, said the state already is a clean-energy leader, and now it's up to elected officials to take the next steps.

"Out of all states in the country, North Carolina has the second highest amount of installed solar capacity next to California,” Ball said. “We have more jobs in the clean-energy economy than we do in the fossil-fuel economy."

Opponents of the bills say the plan is not feasible, but North Carolina already is home to more than 200 solar companies, which employ some 6,000 people. The state also is estimated to have more offshore wind-energy potential than any Atlantic state.

A recent survey found that 31 places of worship in North Carolina have installed solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint. Susannah Tuttle directs North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, a faith-based environmental-advocacy organization. She said climate change is a moral issue, not a partisan one.

"I think introducing legislation at the state level at this point to go 100 percent clean energy is where we need to be,” Tuttle said. “And it's really disappointing that we're not seeing this leadership from our state senators, our senators at the congressional level."

New Mexico, California, Hawaii and the District of Columbia already have legislation on the books calling for 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.