North Carolina Construction News staff writer
Governor Roy Cooper marked the twentieth anniversary of the Clean Smokestacks Act by acknowledging its impact and reaffirming North Carolina’s commitment to protecting resources and communities while transitioning to clean energy.
“This legislation required our power plants to reduce pollution and when I was Attorney General, I was able to use it to reduce pollution coming into North Carolina from other states,” Cooper said. “We are now at a critical point where a clean energy economy will not only fight climate change and improve people’s health, but lower energy costs and create high paying jobs as well.”
As a legislator and as attorney general, Cooper used the legislation to limit the Tennessee Valley Authority’s pollution from impacting the quality of our precious natural resources.
“North Carolinians continue to benefit from the dramatic emission reductions both in improved health outcomes and in the economic impact of improved visibility at our state’s natural treasures,” said North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Elizabeth Biser.
Officially the Air Quality/Electric Utilities Act (SB 1078), it was enacted in July 2002 and requires significant actual emissions reductions from coal-fired power plants – about a one-third reduction of the total NOx emissions and a one-half reduction of the total SO2 emissions from all sources in the state.
The legislation also provided for the recovery of costs incurred by utilities to achieve the emissions limits, which applied to coal-fired electric generating units operated by Duke Energy. This provision differed from federal rules, which allowed utilities to buy pollution credits.
In 2018, the Governor issued Executive Order 80 to transition North Carolina to clean energy and outline the state’s fight against climate change, leading to the N.C. Clean Energy Plan and the bipartisan landmark climate and clean energy legislation that overhauled North Carolina’s power sector known as House Bill 951.
In June 2021, the Governor issued Executive Order 218 to advance North Carolina’s offshore wind development, setting the state’s first offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2050. In January 2022, the Governor issued Executive Order 246 to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by setting new emissions reductions goals in the transportation sector and get more electric vehicles on the road in North Carolina.