Solar industry workers plan to come to the General Assembly in Raleigh on Wednesday to make a final plea to lawmakers to support a pair of bills that would boost solar power in the state.
The bills have been stuck in committees without a vote since they were introduced in the legislature earlier this year.
One of the bills would allow solar energy producers to sell electricity directly to businesses and homeowners, a practice not allowed under state law. The other bill would double the amount of solar power electric utilities have to buy to meet a 2007 state mandate for green energy.
The state's two politically influential electric utilities, Progress Energy and Duke Energy oppose both bills, making the legislation a long shot. The power companies would lose revenue from the bill that would let solar producers sell directly to businesses and households.
Both power companies have vastly expanded their contracts to buy solar power in the past three years. The state now has about 70 megawatts of solar energy in operation or under development, including a 15.5 megawatt solar farm in Davidson County that sells electricity to Duke Energy.
But solar advocates say this is just a fraction of the solar potential in this state that could be unlocked with favorable policies and incentives.
The solar workers plan to fan out through the General Assembly and press legislators to support the bills. They are promoting the bills as economic development initiatives that will create thousands of local jobs.
Julie Robinson, spokeswoman for the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, said she expects several dozen solar industry representatives to show up for the Clean Energy Job Lobby Day. This will be the Raleigh trade group's third lobbying effort on the two bills.
N.C. bills have to pass the state Senate or House by June 9 to remain alive in the legislature.
"This is the last push to really get it rolling," Robinson said.