This year has been an extremely busy, challenging and successful one for NCSEA's policy staff at the NC General Assembly - join us as we take a look back. The NC General Assembly concluded the bulk of its 2011 legislative session last Saturday afternoon, adjourning until July 13 when legislators will come back to Raleigh for a special session focused primarily on redistricting (approving new voting districts).
On June 29th, NCSEA’s legislative team (Ivan Urlaub, Julie Robinson, Tom Bean) held our "2011 Legislative Wrap-Up" webinar. Click here to download the webinar presentation. The hour-long webinar included great discussions and Q&A regarding the 2011 legislative session, including the outcome of legislative proposals to strengthen our state’s energy efficient building code and commitment to growing our solar industry, positioning our state to benefit from offshore wind power, growing our smart grid industry, and securing funding for our innovative clean energy economic development institutions like the NC Solar Center, among other critical matters. There are also several issues that legislators may "study" during the interim (now through next Spring) that could be acted upon during the 2012 short session, which begins in May.
Legislators introduced nearly 30 bills dealing with renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grid this year, plus 20 bills dealing with oil, coal, natural gas and other miscellaneous energy matters. Click here to get the specifics on all energy-related legislation introduced this year in NCSEA’s 2011 NC Sustainable Energy Legislative Guide. And, click here to view NCSEA's 2011 Legislative Agenda and other helpful information.
MAJOR WIN: 2012 Energy Conservation Building Code
One of the biggest "wins" on NCSEA's legislative agenda this year involved approval of new building codes, which take effect in January 2012. It is estimated that the new codes will result in approx. 15% improved energy savings or efficiency for homes and 30% for commercial buildings. The NC Building Code Council approved the new codes last December; however, objections raised at the NC Rules Review Commission required legislators to act to ensure the codes took effect on schedule.
Click here to learn more about the new codes and stay tuned for more information on upcoming code trainings.
We were faced with a unique set of circumstances in January: Republicans took over control of both the NC House and NC Senate for the first time in 100+ years and approx. one-third of legislators were newly-elected, which meant many had little to no knowledge of clean energy issues. To complicate matters further, our state was also facing a muti-billion dollar budget shortfall and there was an incredible amount of misinformation provided to legislators during their 2010 election campaigns about renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and smart grid, which had to be corrected.
Educating legislators about NC's clean energy jobs, business opportunities, resources, projects, opportunities and market challenges became priority #1 - and wow, we were successful! Thanks to the tremendous support and involvement of NCSEA's members and supporters, we had a record-breaking number of meetings with legislators in Raleigh and in their home districts throughout the six month session. We held three Lobby Days this year (we usually hold one). And, we launched our online Legislative Action Center, which connects you with your local legislators.
NCSEA is grateful for the thousands of hours our members and supporters spent talking with, calling and emailing your legislators this session to educate them on your role in our clean energy economy and to seek their support for critical clean energy legislation. We look forward to working with you in the coming months as we continue to educate and meet with legislators, which will help to ensure the 2012 legislative session is a success for us all!
(And a special thanks to Ken Sercy, NCSEA Policy Analyst Graduate Intern for keeping the 2011 Legislative Guide current among his many policy projects.)