On January 7, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 246 confirming North Carolina’s commitment to a clean energy economy and guiding the next steps in the state’s plan. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic opportunity for North Carolinas statewide. .
The Executive Order (EO) states that North Carolina will strive to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions to at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and ‘achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible, but no later than 2050. To achieve these goals, the EO says NC will increase the total number of registered zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) to at least 1,250,000 by 2030 and will strive to have 50% or more of its new vehicle sales in the state in ZEV by 2030.
Perhaps most importantly, the EO directs the Governor’s Policy Office to conduct a “thorough decarbonization pathways analysis” and submit a report within 12 months to identify potential pathways to reduce emissions in the region. ‘State to achieve the objectives mentioned above. The EO also directs the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Quality (and other relevant state agencies), to develop a “North Carolina Clean Transportation Plan » within 15 months to decarbonize the transport sector.
According to North Carolina Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette, “This executive order ensures that our state prepares for and supports emerging technologies…We are committed to working with our state and local partners to develop a clean transportation plan – a plan that will benefit all North Carolinians.
EO’s focus on transportation is a great next step for North Carolina, both environmentally and economically. A recent report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy found that although annual CO2 emissions associated with North Carolina’s industrial, residential and electrical sectors have declined or remained stable since 1980, the state’s population has grown from less than six million to more than 10 million. making its transportation-related CO2 emissions the state’s largest source of CO2 emissions. For that reason alone, Executive Order 246 is a step in the right direction. But the OE also rings the bell for any company operating in the cleantech space.
Deb Wojcik, executive director of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC), said Executive Order 246 is another example of North Carolina’s “continued leadership in clean energy policy and implementation.” and demonstrates to industries that the state “is a place where clean technology companies can truly thrive. and, in turn, generate even more growth, opportunity and innovation for our economy and our citizens.
Businesses near and far should monitor policy developments in North Carolina over the next few years to identify emerging business opportunities.
To be clear, Executive Order 246 is not an anomaly for North Carolina. It builds on the Governor’s previous actions on clean energy, climate change and environmental justice. Since 2018, the Governor issued:
Executive Order 80, affirming North Carolina’s commitment to address climate change;
Executive Order No. 143, establishing the Andrea Harris Task Force on Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity to address long-term disparities in these areas; and
Executive Order No. 218, Outlining North Carolina’s Commitment to Offshore Wind.
And these policies and actions don’t just happen at the executive level. In October 2021, the North Carolina Legislature passed House Bill 951, a bipartisan law requiring the North Carolina Utilities Commission to take “all reasonable steps” to reduce electric utility carbon emissions by 70% compared to 2005 levels by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Among other things, the new law requires the Commission to produce a carbon plan through a stakeholder process “no later than on December 31, 2022. The Commission’s role in developing the carbon plan has already begun in docket number E-100, Sub 179. The first stakeholder meeting will be held virtually by Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas on January 25. 2022. Duke engaged the Great Plains Institute (“GPI”), a third party, to facilitate the stakeholder process.
Due in part to existing North Carolina policies, North Carolina has already seen a number of impressive wins in the cleantech sector in recent months. For example, on December 6, 2021, the governor’s office announced that Toyota would build its first North American battery manufacturing plant for a new generation of electric vehicles in North Carolina, creating at least 1,750 jobs. Likewise, global energy technology company Smart Wires Inc. – which strives to advance the delivery of clean and affordable electricity around the world – has chosen Durham, North Carolina, as the site of its global headquarters. in July 2021. With the implementation of Executive Order 246, North Carolina is expected to become increasingly attractive for businesses like these to open facilities and relocate to the state.
Businesses near and far should monitor policy developments in North Carolina over the next few years to identify emerging business opportunities. Executive Order 246’s focus on decarbonizing the transportation industry suggests some of the specific resources and technologies that could likely emerge as winners. It is highly likely that the North Carolina Clean Transportation Plan can spur growth in renewable natural gas production and new developments in the application of hydrogen as part of the transition to low-emission transportation fuels. Additionally, battery technology is likely to play a key role in the transition to widespread use of electric vehicles. Notably, the Carolinas tin-spodumene belt contains the largest lithium reserves in the United States, making North Carolina a natural hub for battery manufacturing. Increased adoption of electric vehicle use in the state will require significant investment in power distribution infrastructure and vehicle charging stations. In addition, improving access to vehicle charging stations could lead to the implementation of solar-powered charging resources. Solar generation, combined with battery storage, can be central to developing a more widespread and reliable vehicle charging network while simultaneously delivering additional carbon emissions reductions.
The Governor has requested that State agencies work with transportation experts, municipalities and other local governments, planning agencies, automakers, auto dealerships, utilities, affected businesses and stakeholders stakeholders to develop and implement the Clean Transportation Plan. This is a clear opportunity for stakeholders to help North Carolina become a cleantech leader, but also to make it a leading CleanTech cluster in support of the nation’s ongoing energy transition.
Maggie Shober and Stan Cross of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy call the emissions reduction and transportation targets outlined in Executive Order 246 “among the most aggressive in the nation.” Shober and Cross note that the plan has great potential to increase private sector investment and create jobs in the state, as well as address environmental and public health concerns. We couldn’t agree more.
North Carolina will be the thirteenth state in the Union to adopt a ZEV program. Stay tuned as we continue to monitor state legislative and regulatory developments and help our customers navigate the energy transition.
Copyright © 2022 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 19