When it comes to finding alternatives to coal and nuclear power, Germany is way ahead of North Carolina. But a new report by Environmental Defense proposes a plan for catching up.
In North Carolina, roughly 60 percent of our electricity is generated by coal-burning power plants, and 32 percent comes from nuclear plants. Environmental Defense, a national nonprofit, outlines a vision for a new energy mix in The Power to Choose: North Carolina’s Clean-Energy Future, a report released March 7.
If this plan were implemented, North Carolinians could “spend less money on electricity, reduce air pollution, cut heat-trapping gases and improve public health,” the report asserts. “The people of North Carolina have the power to choose the energy future that we want to create, and we have the ability to meet demands with renewable energy and efficiency,” says Michael Shore, who represents Environmental Defense here in Asheville. “One of the most important choices in front of us is this year is a bill in the General Assembly calling for a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio standard, which would require facilities to meet 20 percent of the state’s energy demand with renewables by 2020. This is the best opportunity we’ve had since the 2002 Clean Smokestacks Act.”
If passed, North Carolina’s renewable-portfolio standard would be the first in the southeastern U.S., says Shore, but worldwide, generating power with renewables is nothing new. “Germany has about the same amount of sunlight as they have in Alaska — and yet 50 percent of the PV [photovoltaic] generation in the world is in Germany,” he notes. “WNC has a great opportunity to be a hub of sustainable technology,” he says. “We have excellent solar resources, the best wind resources in the Southeast, the brain trust and the entrepreneurial spirit to be a model in the region.”
Shore recently completed a two-day training session on global warming with former vice-president Al Gore, who produced An Inconvenient Truth.
— Rebecca Bowe, editorial assistant