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Legislative Update

January 18, 2023

2023 Legislative Session

The legislative long session began last Wednesday with swearings-in, discussions on social issues, and a major House rule change. On Wednesday, the Senate opened with a Republican super-majority, which provides them the ability to override the Governor’s vetoes without any assistance from Democrats. Across the hall, House leadership proposed temporary rules that would allow them to vote on a veto override without any notice. This is a noteworthy change to the rules, since House Republicans fell just one vote short of the veto override threshold. It would require Democrats to be in the Chamber at a moment’s notice to prevent any potential override. The temporary rules will be debated in February before final adoption.

These next few weeks of session will likely be quiet as legislators receive committee assignments and start setting their own goals and agendas. ElectriCities will be utilizing this time to meet with new legislators who represent our public power communities.

If you are interested in learning more about your new legislator or would like to get in contact with them, please feel free to email me at rray@electricities.org.

Energy Issues

Following the 2022 session, legislators reiterated their lack of interest in energy legislation for 2023. Having successfully passed the Carbon Plan last year, legislators feel they have made great strides in the energy arena. However, recent events have put energy back at the forefront of many folks’ minds. The substation attacks in Moore County, as well as across the country, have raised grid security concerns nationwide and the rolling blackouts on Christmas Eve in North Carolina have garnered public concern and regulator attention.

It is too soon to tell what will develop from these issues, but ElectriCities continues to monitor them very closely.

NCUC Carbon Plan Decision

Just before the New Year, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) issued a plan with something for almost everyone to both like and dislike. The plan lays out a short-term, “least-regrets” path that directs Duke to:

• Close 9 GW of coal plants;
• Extend the licenses for its nuclear plants;
• Pursue 2350 MW of new solar resources, 600 MW of storage tied to solar and 1000 MW of additional storage; and
• Evaluate new natural gas resources, off-shore wind, on-shore wind, and small-modular reactors.

The NCUC also found that Duke can move forward on some of its transmission plans.

It specifically calls for a progress review every two years, at which point the NCUC will have the opportunity to adjust the plan.

The plan has already been criticized by environmental advocates and solar developers on one side for not going far enough or fast enough to counter climate change and by the John Locke Foundation for going too far, an over-reliance on solar generation, and threatening reliability. While ElectriCities is concerned about the additional costs the plan is certain to impose on wholesale customers, it is pleased that the NCUC has taken a wait-and-see position on most new resources, continues to impose the obligation on Duke to demonstrate that any new investments are cost-justified, and continues to emphasize the critical importance of reliability. We will remain actively involved to protect the interests of public power and our communities as Duke moves forward to implement the plan.

Read a more in-depth summary here.

Joint Purchasing Initiative

*As seen in ElectriCities’ Weekly Wire

ElectriCities members are working together to address industry-wide supply chain challenges.

Instead of each utility across the membership placing separate orders for a few pieces of equipment, members are combining orders in a joint purchasing initiative. The plan is to purchase groups of items three to four times this year.

Members on the Utility Directors Advisory Committee and the Operations Standards Team are working with ElectriCities staff to determine items to purchase, develop specifications, and prepare requests for bids according to North Carolina statutes.

“This isn’t the first time ElectriCities members have joined forces to purchase equipment,” Gregg Welch, Manager of Programs & Services at ElectriCities, told us. For years, many have participated in joint purchases of utility poles. And in March 2022, members jointly purchased padmount transformers.

“Working together to overcome challenges is one of the strengths of public power,” Gregg said.

The first joint-purchasing cycle is underway, with the team identifying items and specifying materials. Utility leaders can expect an email detailing items in this round, along with an opportunity to participate, in late January or February.

If you have questions or would like to participate in the joint purchasing initiative, please contact Gregg Welch

If you would like to be added ElectriCities’ Weekly Wire distribution, you can sign up here.

Dates We’re Watching

Feb. 27 – Mar. 1; APPA Legislative Rally, Washington, D.C.

Mar. 7-9: ElectriCities Connections Summit, Cary, North Carolina

 

Contact us:

Rhian Ray

Senior Government Affairs Specialist

rray@electricities.org

919-760-6325