TO CREATE NC SAVE$ ENERGY AS AN INDEPENDENTLY ADMINISTERED STATEWIDE ENERGY, ELECTRICITY, AND GAS EFFICIENCY PROGRAM IN ORDER TO PROTECT RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS FROM RAPIDLY RISING ENERGY COSTS, TO CREATE JOBS, TO IMPROVE THE OLDER HOUSING STOCK, AND TO REDUCE ENERGY DEMAND THROUGH ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND ENERGY CONSERVATION.
Enacts new Article 6B in GS Chapter 62, entitled Independent Energy Efficiency Administrator, to create an independent energy efficiency administrator for the state, NC SAVE$ ENERGY (NC$E), for the administration and use of moneys to support energy efficiency and conservation programs and services in North Carolina. Presents the findings of the General Assembly that North Carolina has significant cost-effective opportunities to acquire energy efficiency savings that can (1) lower residential customers’ energy bills; (2) create and maintain jobs in the residential efficiency sector after the end of the funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA); and (3) reduce the environmental impact of energy production, delivery, and use.
Designates that a minimum percentage of moneys from the NC$E fund be used (1) to contract with programs that address the unmet needs for cost-effective improvements to homes built before 1990; (2) to reduce energy costs for low- and fixed-income families; (3) to provide a public education and outreach program; and (4) to provide loans at a submarket interest rate from a revolving loan fund for homeowners and owners of rental property and multifamily housing that make improvements designed to increase energy efficiency by at least 20% (requires that the owners of rental property and multifamily housing do not increase rental rates for five years for the costs of the improvements).
Designates that a maximum percentage of moneys from the NC$E fund be used (1) for energy efficient projects for buildings owned or operated by local governments, nonprofit hospitals, schools, or other public services; (2) to train the state’s workforce, local chambers of commerce, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations to optimize inclusion of households that would benefit from home weatherization projects; (3) to provide continuing education to building industry professionas required to receive continuing education regarding the benefits of energy efficiency and improving compliance with energy standards under building codes; and (4) to create “green jobs” and to train the state’s workforce in the skills to become employed in the new “green jobs.” Provides that the definitions in GS 62-133.8 apply to proposed Article 6B and provides additional definitions of terms as they apply to the proposed Article.
Establishes an 11-member NC$E Oversight Board (Board) to establish, oversee, monitor, and revise the scope of activities of NC$E and its budget performance targets. Provides for member qualifications, nominations, terms, restrictions, and operational procedures. Prohibits members from receiving financial gain from service, except per diem and necessary travel and subsistence expenses.
Designates NC$E as an entity established under North Carolina law that manages the planning, implementation, delivery, and administration of programs to reduce the electricity and natural gas consumed in the state and to promote the sustainable use of energy. Prohibits NC$E from being affiliated with any of the state’s electric or gas utilities, public or private.
Sets forth duties of the Board, including developing criteria for awarding contracts under GS 62-126.6. Enumerates areas to be taken into consideration in developing the criteria for awarding these contracts. Provides that the Board may contract with any of the following entities to implement an energy efficiency or energy conservation program or a program that promotes sustainable energy use in North Carolina: (1) a state agency; (2) a local government unit; (3) an owner or operator of an institutional building; (4) a commercial business that provides energy efficiency and conservation services; (5) a utility regulated by the Utilities Commission (Commission); (6) a bank, credit union, or other financial institution; (7) a nonprofit corporation or (8) a combination of two or more of the above listed entities. Provides for staff and duties of an Executive Director. Establishes an NC$E Advisory Council and specifies the composition of its membership.
Establishes the NC$E Fund (Fund) as a special revenue fund to consist of money from (1) a public benefits fee collected by the Commission consisting of a surcharge imposed on electric and gas utility ratepayers equal to $.0008 per kilowatt hour on residential customers and 1¢ per therm for residential natural gas customers; (2) appropriations and other state grants, including bond receipts; (3) any other grants, including federal grants or block grants; and (4) any contributions or donations. Provides for priority funding for specific programs. Prohibits more than 7% of the annual Fund balance from being used for administrative and operating expenses of the Board, its staff, and any contract administrator. Prohibits more than 10% of the annual Fund balance from being used to fund programs that provide energy efficiency improvements for institutional buildings, except for funds that are raised specifically for that purpose through grants, appropriations, and federal funding. Prohibits use of more than 8% of the annual balance of NC$E on July 1 of each year to fund programs for public education, workforce training and job creation. Requires that a minimum of 75% of the NC$E Fund on July 1 of each year be used to fund residential efficiency programs, with a strong emphasis on continuing to fund low-wealth weatherization at a level as close as practicable to or above the level of funding received under ARRA. Allows any residential customer to be exempt from the public benefits surcharge if the customer has a state taxable income of less than $30,000 for the preceding tax year. Requires that the Commission review the Fund annually and determine the application of the surcharge under specified guidelines. Allows the Commission to authorize any utility currently operating any energy efficiency program, by motion of the utility or any other interested person, to transfer an energy efficiency program to NC SAVE$ ENERGY if the Commission determines it is in the public interest, which includes eliminating duplication, reducing rates or customer bills, or providing for a more effective program. The Commission may require the utility to provide operating funds for up to three years as part of the transfer.
Requires NC SAVE$ ENERGY to assess strategies and funding mechanisms to weatherize residential units in addition to those households currently served with Weatherization Assistance Program funding. To meet this mandate, homes and rental units within economically distressed local government units must be targeted.
Establishes a NC SAVE$ ENERGY Advisory Council to advise the Board concerning allocations made from the Fund on energy efficiency programs and other issues as required. Provides for the membership of the council.
Requires the Chair of the Board to report to the Joint Legislative Utility Review Commission and the Fiscal Research Division by October 1 of each year, with the initial report due by October 1, 2012. Specifies information to be included in the report. Also requires the Chair of the Board to report, by July 1 of each year, to the Commission on the results of monitoring and verification of energy savings, decreases in demand, and load forecasts to be included by the utilities in their annual integrated resource plan filings, with the initial Board report due by July 1, 2014.
Allows nominations to the Board to be made within 90 days of the effective date of the act, with members appointed and the Board holding its first meeting within 120 days of that effective date.
Effective October 1, 2011. Provides that collection of the public benefits fee commences within 180 days of the effective date.
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