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What will midterm elections mean for North Carolina energy policy?

WRITTEN BY - Elizabeth Ouzts
PHOTO BY Riokausa / Wikimedia Commons

More Democrats, and Republicans, who support clean energy will head to Raleigh next month. What will they accomplish?

Democrats’ gains in North Carolina give the party enough power to block fresh efforts to roll back the state’s clean energy policies, but few expect next year’s General Assembly to tackle thornier problems such as coal ash or climate change.

While the result of one of the state’s congressional races remains uncertain amid election fraud allegations, North Carolina election officials certified other election results last week, confirming Democrats’ 16-seat pickup in the General Assembly.

Though Republicans will operate with a supermajority until the end of the year, Democrats will hold enough seats come January to sustain vetoes and likely stop efforts to limit Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority over energy policy.

Observers see opportunities to approve incremental, bipartisan energy policies to modernize the electric grid or advance energy efficiency — without poisonous add-ons like the moratorium on wind energy expected to expire this year. The path is less clear for more ambitious proposals.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, a seven-term Democrat from Greensboro, said she plans to file bills on coal ash and climate change to “make a point,” even though they’re unlikely to move. Otherwise, she said, “mostly, I anticipate there will be less aggressive attacks on our renewable energy efforts.”

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