Does the agreement on the NC energy bill mean the next state budget agreement?

North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, right, and lawmakers gathered on March 10, 2021 for a joint press conference on a school reopening deal.  On the same day, a bill was introduced in the House to restrict the powers of the governor during the state of emergency.

North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, right, and lawmakers gathered on March 10, 2021 for a joint press conference on a school reopening deal. On the same day, a bill was introduced in the House to restrict the powers of the governor during the state of emergency.

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With leading North Carolina Republican lawmakers by his side, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed an energy bill that had been in the works for years.

The long-awaited proposal, House Bill 951, solidifies Cooper’s goal of carbon neutrality in the state by 2050 and gives Duke Energy, the state’s dominant utility, a victory it has long sought in multi-year pricing.

Although some North Carolina companies and renewable energy advocates have opposed passage of the bill, the compromise is a victory for both the Republican-majority legislature and the governor, and it comes as the two parties negotiate a spending plan for the state.

North Carolina has been on budget since 2018, when the legislature managed to bypass Cooper’s veto on his Tory spending plan. The governor and the legislature have since been at an impasse on the state budget.

Cooper’s signing of the energy bill on Wednesday indicates that this year, key Republican lawmakers and the governor may once again be able to stand side-by-side in the coming weeks if the two sides first come up with a plan to Mutually beneficial state spending in Cooper has been governor for over four years.

Lawmakers say the compromise on energy legislation could make it easier for the two sides to reach a deal on the budget.

“When you’ve had a successful experience negotiating a deal, it makes the next deal between the same people a lot easier because you understand each other better and you understand that you can’t get everything you want.” , said Senate Minority Leader Dan. Blue, a Democrat serving Wake County.

The energy bill is not the first compromise between the two branches this year. Cooper signed a criminal justice reform bill with bipartisan support and worked with lawmakers to create a plan to reopen schools amid the pandemic. But the energy proposal is one of the most complicated compromises between the two branches to date, and lays the groundwork for an even bigger compromise in budget negotiations.

“It builds momentum,” said Senator Paul Newton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, after a committee meeting last week. “Having a two-party solution here on energy helps lead to a two-party solution on the budget.”

The sacrifices they make

The sacrifices made by each side to come to an agreement on the energy bill are like some of the concessions the legislature and governor will have to make in order to successfully pass a budget.

The legislature and governor have compromised on how to codify the governor’s clean energy plan, move away from coal, and regulate utilities to make the energy bill law.

“I would be remiss if I did not highlight the display of bipartisanship shown in this effort,” Cooper said. “Bringing transformative change is often controversial and never easy, especially when there are different perspectives on important and complex issues. Sitting down at the table to find common ground is the way government should operate.

In budget negotiations, both sides will need to find common ground on corporate tax cuts being championed by Republicans, if, or how, the state extends Medicaid, which is a top priority for Democrats, and to what extent an increase in teachers and state employees should receive. Some Republicans are also keen to include provisions in fiscal policy limiting the governor’s powers, which Cooper opposes.

“There is a huge appetite to resolve this budget impasse,” said Blue.

A key difference between budget and energy bill negotiations, however, is that energy bill negotiations between the legislature and the governor actually revolved around the future of one company: Duke Energy.

Duke benefits from the current law because it will allow the utility to request up to a 4% increase in each of the second and third years of a multi-year pricing process, The News & Observer previously reported. This could result in a rate hike of up to 8% during a rate period.

“We thank Governor Cooper and Senate and House leaders for passing this landmark legislation with broad bipartisan support, creating a framework to meet some of the country’s most aggressive carbon reduction targets while maintaining demands. lower cost and reliability to protect customers, ”Stephen De May, president of Duke Energy in North Carolina, said in a written statement.

Not one external interest, on the other hand, is at the center of budget negotiations, which can complicate a compromise on a spending plan. Instead, agencies, businesses, residents, and politicians across the state have a stake in the budget and hope what the final project will look like.

For now, the House and Senate are negotiating what should be included in a counterproposal to the governor, but lawmakers hope to reach an agreement in the days and weeks to come.

For more information on North Carolina government and politics, listen to The News & Observer and NC Insider’s Under the Dome political podcast. You can find it at or wherever you get your podcasts.

Under the dome

On The News & Observer’s Under the Dome podcast, we unpack the legislation and the issues that matter, keeping you up to date with what’s going on in North Carolina politics twice a week on Monday and Friday mornings. Check us out here and sign up for our weekly Under the Dome newsletter for more political news.

This story was originally published October 13, 2021 12:27 pm.

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Adam Wagner covers climate change and other environmental issues in North Carolina. Her work is produced with financial support from 1Earth Fund, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism scholarship program. Wagner’s previous work at The News & Observer included covering the COVID-19 vaccine deployment and recovering North Carolina from the recent hurricanes. He previously worked at Wilmington StarNews.

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Lucille Sherman is a state political reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. Previously, she worked as a National Data and Investigations reporter for Gannett. Using the secure and encrypted Signal application, you can reach Lucille at 405-471-7979.

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