From 'Renewable' To 'Clean': Advisory Group Considers Big Change

Jan 27, 2016

A key energy advisory commission today pushed back a decision on adding nuclear power to a list of approved energy sources, and create a new Clean Energy Portfolio Standard that would replace the current standard based on renewable energy.

The state Energy Policy Council advises Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly on energy issues. Today, at its meeting on NC State University’s campus, the EPC considered a recommendation from the state’s top environmental regulator that would dramatically alter the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

That law, passed in 2007, mandates that 12.5 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2021.

Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The revision would mean all nuclear capacity added since 2008 would qualify under a new "Clean Energy Portfolio Standard." An earlier version of the proposal also would have added natural gas, but that was dropped.

The controversial plan was first proposed by Donald van der Vaart, the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, in a memo to a subcommittee of the EPC earlier this month. Van der Vaart is also a member of the EPC.

Environmental groups were quick to denounce the plan.

On its website, the NC League of Conservation Voters said: “Given the role and structure of the EPC, such a proposal from the DEQ Secretary must be viewed as the first public step in an orchestrated process to bring an anti-REPS proposal to the legislature with the official blessing of the governor,”

The full EPC decided to send the recommendation on nuclear power back to a committee.

The General Assembly would have to vote on any proposed revisions.