April 8, 2015

In North Carolina, Walmart and Other Corporate Giants Call for Clean Energy Choices

Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.

The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:

  • Some of the country’s largest retailers – Walmart, Lowes, Target, Family Dollar, and Macy’s
  • Major manufacturers – Volvo, textile giant VF, Unilever, and New Belgium Brewing
  • Agriculture commodities giant Cargill

North Carolina’s current law prohibits companies from contracting with energy providers other than utilities. It’s easy to understand how that law squashes consumer choice and competition.

The 10 companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from providers other than utilities like Duke Energy and Dominion. Greater choice in the North Carolina electricity market would provide a wide range of benefits. For example, companies and homeowners would be able to lease rooftop solar panels from clean energy providers at little to no upfront cost and lock in long-term, stable electricity rates.

The ability to choose a clean energy provider is commonly known as “third party sales,” and it’s not a new concept. In fact, North Carolina is one of only five states that prohibit companies from selecting where they buy their power.

Fortunately, that may change in the state’s 2015 legislative session. A bill called the “Energy Freedom Act” would nullify the state’s outdated prohibition on third party sales, allowing independent power producers to bypass Duke Energy and Dominion and sell clean energy directly to businesses and homes. As a win-win for the state’s economy and clean energy, the bill’s list of sponsors reflects bipartisan support for energy freedom.

In their letter to lawmakers, the companies said that “the availability of competitive renewable energy choices is also a key factor for many of us when we choose where to do business.”

North Carolina has failed to keep pace with other states on energy choice and competition, and businesses have taken note. Now lawmakers can help the state catch up.

SourceGreg Andeck, Environmental Defense Fund

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