House passes energy choice bill to protect consumers
On Wednesday, the North Carolina House passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from blocking consumers from certain types of energy sources, by a vote of 76-38.
House Bill 130 (H.B. 130) has bipartisan sponsorship. Reps. Dean Arp, R-Union; Jason Saine, R-Lincoln; Michael Wray, D-Northampton; and Charlie Miller, R-Brunswick, are the lead sponsors of the bill.
The legislation comes after the Biden administration sparked national conversations about gas stoves. Additionally, North Carolina had rolling blackouts on Christmas weekend in 2022, which raised concerns over state energy policy.
“What this bill does is, if you have a gas stove, you can keep your gas stove,” said Arp.
Arp said the bill would give consumers the freedom to choose their energy sources, regardless of local government restrictions.
Nine Democrats and all Republicans voted in favor of H.B. 130.
Democrats who voted ‘Yes’ on the bill were Reps. Brockman, D-Mecklenburg; Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg; Gill, D-Wake; John, D-Wake; Majeed, D-Mecklenburg; Pierce, D-Scotland; Price, D-Orange; Willingham, D-Edgecombe; and Wray.
Several Democrats attempted to amend the bill on the floor, but the amendment failed by a vote of 45-70, with three Democrats members voting against amendment: Wray, Tricia Cotham, and Carla Cunningham.
H.B. 130 states city and county governments would be prohibited from adopting ordinances to restrict “connection, reconnection, modification, or expansion of an energy service based on the type or source of energy” delivered to the consumer.
Gov. Cooper vetoed a similar bill last year, although it cleared the House by a vote of 78-41 with bipartisan support. Only nine Democrats voted in favor last biennium, while all Republicans supported the bill.
Although most House Democrats opposed H.B. 130, Republicans only need one Democratic vote to override a Cooper veto. Wray’s sponsorship of the bill opens the door for it to become law this year.
The bill will receive its final vote in the House tomorrow before heading to the Senate.