RALEIGH — A new poll finds more than six in 10 North Carolina voters think the state should be prioritizing wind and solar energy.
Nearly 90% said renewables are “very important” to North Carolina’s future, and many believe the building of offshore wind projects along the coast will create more jobs.
Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said offshore wind technology manufacturing is poised for an economic boom, and North Carolina could get a slice of the pie.
“And we’ve heard from developers across the country, ‘If you want the supply chain, you’ve got to make some commitments to development,’” Kollins explained. “So, what this shows us is that North Carolinians are ready to see offshore wind development.”
She pointed out the pandemic’s impact on North Carolina’s economy is spotlighting the state’s need to pursue industries that not only expand existing business, but lead to opportunities in clean energy.
Research shows developing renewables can grow the local tax base, especially in hard-hit rural areas.
Greg Andeck, strategy and government relations director for Audubon North Carolina, said lawmakers have been proactive in their support of clean energy.
He pointed to the state’s portfolio standard, which requires all investor-owned utilities to generate 12.5 % of their electricity from renewable sources.
“I will say that a lot of this growth is a result of thoughtful state policy, and we’ll really need to see continued support from state lawmakers if we want to see the clean-energy economy continue to grow in the future,” Andeck recommended.
Kollins believes wind energy fits the bill for a clean-energy source that also can provide economic payoffs.
“It’s going to bring clean energy, we’re going to have cleaner air, we are going to add to our state’s economy,” Kollins outlined. “And we’re also going to help the impacts of climate change.”
The survey was conducted by Nexus Polling, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.