Last week, CRES Forum and Conservatives for Clean Energy (CCE) co-sponsored the “Energy Efficiency Opportunities in North Carolina” forum in Raleigh, which attracted several leaders from the public and private sectors and a number of clean energy advocates. While it focused on energy efficiency, the discussions touched on a number of different clean energy issues.
CCE President & CEO Mark Fleming kicked off the forum by explaining that, “This event today is something near and dear to us conservatives—saving money and starting jobs at the same time.”
Lt. Governor Dan Forest gave remarks and moderated the energy efficiency panel. The Lt. Governor is a former architect, so he touched on how building standards have changed, particularly his new-found love for today’s LED lights. Like the rest of the speakers, Lt. Governor Forest highlighted the economic opportunities investment in energy efficiency provides and said he couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t be in favor of clean energy.
“We have some low hanging fruit to take advantage of in North Carolina like performance contracting,” he said. “It’s a way to get the state engaged in energy that will pay dividends immediately.”
A key figure in North Carolina’s clean energy movement, State Representative John Szoka, also participated. Last year, Rep. Szoka was instrumental in passing HB 589, a measure that many believe with strengthen the solar market in North Carolina in the short term. The Tar Heel State is already second in the nation in installed solar capacity, so even a short-term boost will make a tremendous difference.
Meanwhile, Jeff Moe from Ingersoll Rand focused on the numbers, noting energy efficiency has created 2.2 million jobs in North Carolina.
The other panelist, Greg Merritt from Cree, suggested energy efficiency is turning a corner as technology empowers residential and business consumers to become more savvy about their usage.
“Energy efficiency or productivity still remains the cheapest source of energy we can tap, by far,” Merritt explained. “If you could increase productivity in any area of your business by a factor of two, you’re going to do it.”
This event was particularly meaningful because North Carolina could become a trailblazer for states looking for a clean energy edge to their economy. In recent years, energy consumption in North Carolina has continued to drop at the same time that the economy is growing. North Carolina is a state where voters are embracing clean energy because they’ve seen the results. The forum should serve as reminder to Republicans running for office in that state that clean energy is a winning issue.
If you’d like to see photos of the event, visit CRES Forums’s Facebook page.