By Dan Oldman
Special to the C-T
Christmas Eve blackouts, which left half a million North Carolinians in the dark amid freezing temperatures, highlight our need for diversified and resilient energy production. Fortunately, Person County is poised to be part of the solution with a project being planned by Cypress Creek Renewables.
Cypress Creek Renewables, an innovative company based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, plans to build an 80 megawatt solar project in Person County. It would power about 9,000 homes while contributing almost $3 million in property taxes over its lifetime, employing about 90 local workers during its construction.
Local project’s benefits
As a longtime supporter of local and regional economic growth, I’m excited about the benefits of Cypress Creek’s project, which will complement and reinforce our area’s existing power-generation capacity and resilience. The project will:
– Augment and work in harmony with Duke Energy’s power production. Under the N.C. Utilities Commission’s Dec. 30 Carbon Plan order, Duke’s coal-fired Roxboro and Mayo plants could be retired and partially replaced by gas units. Cypress Creek’s solar project would complement them.
– Help Person attract jobs and economic investment, which increasingly are drawn to clean energy. Person is home to several large employers, such as CertainTeed Gypsum, Eaton Corporation, GKN Driveline, Louisiana-Pacific, Polywood, Spuntech Industries, and other businesses that depend on reliable electricity at reasonable rates.
– Help prevent blackouts like the one that plagued Duke customers on Christmas Eve.
– Provide more energy competition and better choices for consumers.
– Contribute to America’s energy independence, reducing our reliance on oil from unsavory regimes abroad.
These gains are consistent with Person County’s comments on Duke Energy’s proposed Carbon Plan. They’re also in line with public opinion locally and statewide.
Public wants choice, competition
North Carolina’s voters want more choice and competition in their power sources. According to Conservatives for Clean Energy’s 2022 North Carolina Energy Poll, four out of five conservative voters (79%) favor electing representatives who will pursue policies promoting energy competition and consumer choice.
Conservatives know that monopolies are inherently bad for consumers – especially with something as crucial as energy – while competition and free markets are good. Three-fourths of conservatives (74%), favor studying options to Duke Energy’s outdated monopoly to allow consumer-friendly competition, the statewide poll found.
The more competition to produce homegrown energy, the better. And the greater, the more efficient, and the more reliable our energy supply, the lower the cost for consumers. These are all traditional, time-tested, conservative economic principles.
Our clean energy advantage
Meanwhile, Russia’s war to conquer Ukraine, which has strained global oil supplies and sent fuel prices soaring, is driving home the urgency of America’s becoming fully energy independent. We cannot do that without expanding our domestic renewable energy resources. Thankfully, in North Carolina we have ample God-given sunlight, wind, and water to help get us there.
What’s more, clean energy is a growing economic sector across our state. North Carolina is ranked first among all 50 U.S. states in rural clean energy jobs, according to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association. Small businesses account for almost four out of five clean energy jobs in North Carolina, ranking second in America. And local governments draw eight times the property tax revenue from solar sites as their parcels had produced before.
We use energy every day. We need a stronger, more reliable, resilient energy supply at affordable prices, especially now. Clean energy helps us get it without polluting our water or air – protecting our natural resources while advancing economic growth and public health.
I urge Person County’s commissioners and other local leaders to promote America’s energy independence, reliability, and affordability while adding to the property tax base and promoting economic development by supporting Cypress Creek’s project here.
Dan Oldman is active in Republican US District 4, which includes Person County. He is also a volunteer lobbyist and member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s NC Conservative Caucus. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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