Investment in renewable energy and efficiency grew 13-fold in North Carolina between 2007 and 2012, totaling $1.4 billion in that period, says an analysis commissioned by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association.
Overall, it said, the state policies driving that growth contributed $1.7 billion to the gross state product including secondary benefits. That figure includes the costs of construction and state incentives, the impact on utility customers, energy efficiency benefits and the reduced energy generated by traditional technology.
The analysis was done by RTI International, a nonprofit research institute based in Research Triangle Park, and Boston energy consulting firm La Capra Associates. The Sustainable Energy Association advocates for green energy.
Its release comes as state legislators consider changes to two key policies that are widely credited with creating new markets for solar, wind and energy efficiency.
A 2007 North Carolina law says electric utilities have to generate 12.5 percent of their retail sales from renewable energy or energy efficiency by 2021. The state also allows tax credits of 35 percent for commercial renewable-energy projects.
The RTI-La Capra analysis predicts "no appreciable rate impact" to residential, industrial and commercial utility customers through 2026 due to those policies. It finds that electric rates will be lower after 20 years of those policies than they would have been without them.
Investments in renewable energy and efficiency programs generated or saved 8.2 million megawatt-hours between 2007 and 2012, about what Charlotte, Raleigh and Fayetteville use in one year, the report said. Every $1 in incentives, such as tax credits, generated $1.87 in state or local revenue, it said.
The Sustainable Energy Association's 2012 jobs census found that more than 1,100 companies in the state work in renewable energy or energy efficiency.
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