North Carolina is accelerating its efforts to address climate change and taking significant steps to increase clean energy.[i] These efforts build on past environmental progress in the state, such as the 2002 bipartisan Clean Smokestacks Act that slashed power plant emissions. The 2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard set a national example for promoting clean air and use of solar energy.
More recently, North Carolina has soared to second in the country in installed solar capacity and has approximately 6,000 MW of cumulative renewable energy capacity. By 2016, clean energy jobs in the state exceeded 34,000, [ii] which is at least twice the number of coal-mining jobs in West Virginia.[iii]
Corporate demand is another driving factor in North Carolina’s clean energy growth. Technology companies with clean-energy commitments such as Google, Apple, and Facebook have located energy-intensive data centers in the state and supported policies that favor renewable energy. Amazon installed the state’s first commercial-scale wind farm in 2016 to power its cloud services, resulting in an annual injection of $1.1 million into the local economy.
The Tar Heel State continues to advance policies that promote renewable energy and address climate change. The state recently enacted legislation titled “Competitive Energy Solutions for NC,” which will grow North Carolina’s clean energy sector over the next five years. In addition, Governor Roy Cooper opposes offshore drilling on North Carolina’s coast.
In June 2017, Governor Cooper declared North Carolina’s participation in the We Are Still In campaign, citing the importance of state leadership in ensuring a healthy environment. "North Carolina knows that clean air and energy innovation are good for our economy and health, and we're committed to continuing to lead in this area," he said.[iv]