RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper signed a milestone energy bill into law Wednesday that aims to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power plants by 2030.
In a ceremony with legislators from both parties, Cooper enacted a consensus measure that now tasks the state Utilities Commission with coming up with the arrangements to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goals sought by the governor.
At least 16 states previously have passed legislation establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements. The only other Southeast state to have done so before Wednesday was Virginia.
“This is a new beginning,” Cooper said at the Executive Mansion ceremony. “Putting real and enforceable carbon reduction targets into the law, North Carolina is working to reduce the effect of climate change on marginalized populations, while putting our state at the forefront of the clean energy economy and the jobs that it brings.”
The directive aims to reduce energy producers’ carbon dioxide output 70% by 2030 and achieve zero-net CO2 emissions by 2050. To get there, coal-fired power plants operated by Duke Energy, the state’s dominant utility, are expected to be retired early, replaced by an evolving mix of alternate fuels for electricity. Duke and other advocacy groups will have input, too.
The new law also allows Duke Energy to seek multiyear rate increases and performance-based earnings incentives from the state Utilities Commission — a significant win for the Charlotte-based company. Representatives of Duke and other business groups supporting the new law attended the ceremony.