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Renewable Energy Has Potential to Renew North Carolina Economy

July 29, 2010

DURHAM, N.C. - As the U.S. Senate takes up Sen. Harry Reid's proposed energy legislation, the lawmaker is facing criticism over what he left on the cutting room floor. In spite of support in his own party to include a standard that would make it mandatory for a percentage of the nation's electricity to come from renewable energy sources, Reid removed that standard from the bill.

Meanwhile, researchers from Duke University and Georgia Tech have released preliminary findings from a study on renewable energy and the South. Their report concludes that renewable energy could prove to be a viable and economic win for southern states. While this is also true for North Carolina, researcher Etan Gumerman says the inexpensive electricity available in the state removes some motivation for considering greener alternatives.

"Where you have traditionally higher prices for electricity, things like renewables or energy efficiency measures are more cost-competitive. There may be just a lack of awareness of what's available."

The report finds that coal dominates electricity generation in southern states, with renewables providing less than 4 percent, compared to the national average of 9.5 percent.

Supporters of the Senate Energy Bill insist that removing a renewable energy requirement was the only way to ensure the bill's passage.

Gumerman insists that it's still important to lay the groundwork for renewable energy.

"Even if we're not ready now, this might be something we need to start prepping for, so in five years, when it IS cost-effective, we're ready, and we have policies in place."

The study found that solar and hydropower show promise as renewable energy resources in North Carolina.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC