MEDIA RELEASE: As public comment period ends, advocates show how draft NC Clean Power Plan fails to meet needs of low-income communities

RALEIGH (January 15, 2016) — The NC Clean Power Plan (CPP) fails to adequately meet the requirements of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and needs significant improvements so that it will better serve the economy, environment, and North Carolina's low-income communities.

During a public comment period that ended today and hearings held in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington in recent weeks, advocates urged revisions to the state's CPP so that it incorporates aggressive adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, as well as better serves North Carolina's residents. As it stands, the plan would leave North Carolina without valuable opportunities for improving energy efficiency, lowering electricity costs, protecting the environment, developing solar and wind renewable energy, and creating new jobs, advocates said.

"We need to reduce carbon emissions and at the same time work to lower the tremendous energy burden on low-income communities," said Al Ripley, director of the NC Justice Center's Consumer & Housing Project. "North Carolina needs to adopt more aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy programs targeted directly and indirectly at helping low-income communities as part of the state's CPP."

On August 3, 2015, the EPA announced the CPP, a historic step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants, combating climate change, and giving North Carolina an opportunity to implement policies that can significantly help low income utility users. Each state can develop a plan that incorporates a range of steps to reduce carbon emissions including energy efficiency measures and renewable energy. Of particular interest is the CPP's Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), which incentivizes investments in low income energy efficiency measures.

However, North Carolina's CPP makes no provision for inclusion in the CEIP, leaving the state without the tremendous benefit of participating in the program.

"For the homeowners we work with, a lack of meaningful energy efficiency and home weatherization programs makes it very hard for low- and moderate-income homeowners to lower electric costs through energy efficiency," said Louise Mack, CEO and President of Prosperity Unlimited in Kannapolis, a nonprofit that helps low-income families. "We need better programs that truly meet the needs of low-income homeowners."

Both the NC Justice Center and Prosperity Unlimited work to help families who struggle to pay high electric bills, a hardship that threatens the financial stability and well-being of low- and moderate-income families.

A strong power plan should utilize renewable energy resources such as wind and solar so that North Carolina can avoid the construction of costly new power plants. Aggressive energy efficiency programs will not only provide significant opportunities for low-income homeowners to improve their properties, but also lower demand for electricity and thereby lower the amount of electricity that the state needs to produce.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Al Ripley, 919.274.8245, al@ncjustice.org.