House Committee Forwards Renewables-Efficiency Bill

A state House committee today approved a bill that would require North Carolina's utilities to serve their customers with a set amount of renewable fuel and energy efficiency.

Environmental groups have strongly protested parts of the measure that would help finance construction of new power plants. They say encouraging new coal and nuclear plants defeats the bill's original purpose.

Lawmakers who sided with them threatened to remove those sections, but the House Energy and Energy Efficiency Committee voted soundly against an amendment to do just that.

The panel approved some changes, notably a section that says utilities could only get a permit to build a new power plant if they prove they can't meet growing demand by using renewable fuel and conservation.

The bill faces hearings from two more committees before the full House votes. The Senate, which approved it once, would have to OK the changes made in the House.