On Tuesday, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of SB 678, which, among other things, replaces the phrase “renewable energy” in statute (which only included sources like solar and wind) to a more holistic, “all of the above” phrase of “clean energy.”
This change to a “clean energy” definition in law would include nuclear energy and nuclear fusion power, for example, as well as renewables. It joins a long list of veto overrides by the General Assembly.
Once again, the Republican-controlled General Assembly (excluding one House Republican who supported Cooper’s veto) saved Roy Cooper from his own hypocrisy.
Cooper’s now moot veto stated, “North Carolina is on a bipartisan path to removing carbon from our electric power sector in the most cost-effective way. This bill attempts to diverge from that path…”
The first part is true; the second is objectively false, and he knows it. This is bought-and-paid-for political games.
Cooper’s plan for a clean energy future should have aligned with this bill, given that he signed HB 951 into law in 2021. HB 951 was a transformative, bipartisan energy bill and a reasonable and conservative response to costly “Green New Deal” style policies. It mandates carbon reduction via the most reliable and least cost pathways.
Signing this new clean-energy bill — which broadens the law to include more reliable clean-energy options — should have been a no-brainer. It is truly bizarre how someone who advocates for the mandates in HB 951 would oppose the proposals in SB 678.
What is clear is that Cooper is more beholden to his environmental leftist campaign financiers and every solar-boy lobbyist in Raleigh than he is to the bipartisan energy policy he signed into law in 2021. It is also clear that he does not have an objective belief in clean energy. If he genuinely believed in clean and reliable energy, there was nothing to oppose in SB 678, and he and his progressive green base would not oppose nuclear power.
Nuclear power is the most reliable clean-energy source we have available. It produces zero carbon and, most importantly, is a baseload (meaning it is a stable foundational source) and dispatchable (meaning it can be adjusted up to meet demand). It would not require costly grid modifications to add to our current grid, as unreliable solar energy would do.
Grid reliability also impacts energy costs. A reliable grid is a cost-saving grid.
Adding copious amounts of additional renewable energy sources onto our grid, such as solar and wind, would make our grid more unreliable. HB 951 stated that grid reliability must be maintained or improved upon in any decisions made by the Utilities Commission. Renewables have a place as part of a diverse energy grid. However, they cannot currently beat dispatchable clean sources like nuclear on reliability metrics, and we should not expect them to do so anytime soon.
Our current grid is designed to accept baseload and dispatchable energy sources. The grid modifications necessary to accept more renewables — which are non-baseload and non-dispatchable sources — onto the grid would shatter North Carolinians’ pocketbooks and wallets, especially low-income North Carolinians, whom Cooper ironically appealed to in his veto. It would not be the least-cost overall option, which current law also mandates.
You get what you pay for, and it saves us in the long run to have more reliable energy sources that are also clean.
Broadening a clean-energy definition in North Carolina law is not only the responsible thing to do to provide for our clean energy future, but it conforms to and reinforces the bipartisan policy passed by the General Assembly and signed by Roy Cooper in HB 951.
In no way should Cooper’s veto of SB 678 be seen as the savior of least cost or reliability. Cooper’s opposition — and those who opposed this bill — comes from chumming up to the green-energy lobby and ideological blinders. Nothing more.