Concern and opposition continue to grow in North Carolina’s business community regarding House Bill 951 – energy legislation that emerged in June at the NC General Assembly. Below is the text of a new letter that 54 manufacturers and companies with major operations across North Carolina sent to all State Senators on August 3 expressing their opposition to HB951. In June, 31 textile companies sent a similar letter of opposition to legislators.
North Carolina Electric Utility Ratepayers Oppose HB 951
2 August 2021
The undersigned companies oppose HB 951- Modernize Energy Generation. Representatives of our individual companies participated in the House Energy Stakeholder process, and we thank House leaders for that opportunity. We attempted to be constructive and straightforward about our concerns with the bill as currently drafted, we have continued to explore ways to resolve the multitude of issues that have been identified by our companies and others, and we have offered numerous edits to the bill that, if incorporated, would assuage our concerns. Since the concernsof our companies have not been addressed, we have no option other than to oppose the bill.
We respectfully request that the Senate make the following changes to the bill:
Restore NC Utilities Commission Authorities. Many of the long-standing decision-making authorities of the NC Utilities Commission that have balanced the best interests of utilities with the best interests of ratepayers have been marginalized or altogether eliminated by this legislation. When you limit Utilities Commission authorities in the manner prescribed by this bill, you also limit the opportunities for members of the public, the Public Staff, manufacturing groups, the Attorney General, conservation interests, and others to offer testimony, cross-examine witnesses, or otherwise participate in the Commission’s deliberations on important decisions about electricity generation in our state.
Sustain Current Practice for Determining Need for New Generation.
Preserve Current Practice and Commission Authority for Determining Need for New Generation. The bill mandates that Duke Energy and private solar developers add new solar generation to the grid regardless of whether the new generation is needed or not. This will further increase costs that ratepayers will have to pay for new generation (and related infrastructure upgrades to Duke Energy’s transmission and distribution systems) that may or may not be needed to provide power to Duke Energy’s customers.
Securitize a Significant Portion of the Remaining Coal Unit Book Value. The bill calls for only $500 million of the remaining book value in the coal units to be recovered through securitization, which is less than half of the remaining book value. Approximately $20 million in ratepayer savings is achieved for every $100 million of the book value that is securitized.
Require Utility Shareholders to Assume Some of the Risk of New Nuclear Investments. The bill allows the utilities to invest $50 million for early site planning for an advanced nuclear unit, with no assurance that any of that ratepayer investment will be returned to ratepayers if the unit is never operational (ratepayers are still paying hundreds of millions of dollars for similar investments at the Lee site where no power ever has, or ever will be generated). The risk of new nuclear units should be shared between ratepayers and shareholders, or the nuclear provision should be deleted.
Strike the Rebuttable Presumption. The bill creates a dangerous new rebuttable presumption that the utility’s spending under the coal retirement plan is reasonable and prudent, bypassing current legal tests that are regularly applied by the Commission to protect ratepayers from imprudent or unreasonable spending.
Allow NCUC to Expand Capacity Limits for the Renewables Programs. The Commission should be allowed to expand the Green Source Advantage program and Shared Solar Program capacity limits to accommodate additional interest in the program so long as the overall cap on renewables generation currently included in the bill is not surpassed; and the Shared Solar Program should be available for customers of Dominion Energy, in addition to Duke Energy.
We appreciate your consideration of these concerns.
Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc.
Arauco Panels USA LLC
Archer Daniels Midland
Ashley Furniture Industries
The Chemours Company FC, LLC
Charlotte Pipe & Foundry
Clearwater Paper Corporation
EGGER Wood Products LLC
Evergreen Packaging LLC
Fortron® Industries, a Celanese Corporation
Kuraray America Inc.
New Belgium Brewing
Novozymes North America
Saft America Inc
Shurtape Technologies LLC
Surry Chemicals Inc.
Syngenta Crop Protection Inc
The Timken Company
Trinity Manufacturing Inc.