Sierra Club NC Chapter – Legislative Update 07-18-14

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Friends,

This week in the General Assembly it began to really feel like the end of session with a variety of old proposals resurfacing and quickly moving through committees without much discussion.

Update on the coal ash bill:

On Monday the Senate failed to concur on the coal ash bill – S 729 – which means that House and Senate conferees will negotiate a final bill behind closed doors. Senator Apodaca asked Senators to not concur so that some changes made by the House could be fixed. Apodaca specifically noted that he does not support the variance procedure added by the House that would allow the Secretary of DENR to approve variances to deadlines in the bill and he does not support housing the new Coal Ash Management Commission under DENR. The Senate’s version of the coal ash bill had the Coal Ash Management Commission housed under the Department of Public Safety. We expect to see changes to both of these parts in a final bill. Senate conferees were appointed yesterday – they are: Senators Berger (R – Guilford, Rockingham), Wade (R – Guilford) and Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania). House conferees have not yet been officially appointed but Representatives McGrady (R – Henderson), Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg)and Hager (R – Burke, Rutherford) carried the bill in the House so they are very likely be appointed as conferees. The coal ash bill may not come to a final vote until the very end of session (which should be in the next few weeks) because votes on major bills are often held back until the end to encourage negotiation between the chambers.

Opportunity for Action:

As you may recall, the coal ash bill still lacks assurances that groundwater and surface water will be protected from continuing pollution at all sites. Please contact the Senate conferees and ask them to add clear standards to the bill to ensure that any closure method allowed is protective of groundwater near coal ash sites.

Everything old is new again?

  • Last session the House passed H 201, then called “Reinstate 2009 Energy Conservation Codes” to roll back energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings. But the bill was never brought to a vote in the Senate. This week, the Senate Rules Committee introduced a revised version of H 201 that renames it “Building Reutilization for Economic Development Act” and narrows the impact of the energy efficiency rollbacks but then proposes new exemptions from stormwater rules and the NC Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) for some commercial buildings. If passed, the result would be that some commercial buildings would be allowed to be built 30% less efficient and would get exemptions from the NC Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). We understand that the intent of the bill is to help one company redevelop a building, but nonetheless its a statewide bill. Energy use in buildings accounts for 70% of total electricity use. And since buildings have a lifespan of between 50 and 75 years it’s critical that new construction be to efficient standards to reduce our overall energy usage and dependency on dirty energy like coal. H 201 is calendared to be voted on by the Senate on Monday.
  • S 883 “Disapprove/Amend Buffer Rules” would strike a list of environmental rules created to protect water quality that were only recently adopted. The existing rules resulted from a lengthy stakeholder negotiation process in which environmental groups were involved. The new proposed rules were created by a separate stakeholder group that did not include environmental groups. One of many problems we see with this bill includes striking a requirement for those who do mitigation projects to provide funds for long term maintenance. Mitigation projects are meant to make up for the loss of wetlands and habitat to development but if we don’t ensure their long-term success we are not really mitigating our losses. More to follow on this bill. S 883 is on the Senate calendar for Monday evening along with H 201.

And why should we have to choose between education and transit?

H 1224 “Local Sales Tax for Education/Econ Dev Changes” was revised by the Senate this week to add a cap on the total sales tax a county may levy and disallow counties from using local sales tax revenues to fund both public education and public transit (thereby forcing a choice between the two). The Senate changes to this bill received negative attention from a number of groups this week, including Sierra Club. H 1224 was removed from the Senate calendar Thursday and sent to Senate Finance Committee where there will likely be revisions proposed on Monday evening. We created an action alert on this bill for Wake County residents since we know that Wake County is considering a transit tax; but again this is a statewide bill so if this concerns you please contact your Senator.

Thank you for your interest and volunteer advocacy! Be on the lookout for more frequent updates and action alerts as the legislative session comes to a close.  The end of session always brings surprises.


Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

Recycle it! Get your new recycling list and pick up calendar here!

Great resources!

Recyclables are collected every-other-week on the same day as garbage and yard waste collection.  To find your collection day and recycling week, visit the GeoPortal system, enter your address in the Search box, and then click on Services. If you already know your collection day and your recycling collection week (Orange or Green), you can refer to the Recycle It! Collection Calendar to stay up-to-date on your collection schedule.

NEW ITEM NOW ACCEPTED FOR RECYCLING COLLECTION … PIZZA BOXES. Residents may now recycle pizza boxes in their recycling cart. Pizza boxes are also now accepted at the County’s recycling centers.

For more information go to Charlotte Waste Services.

New List of Recyclable Items

Recycle List July 2014

 July 2014 to June 2015 Pick Up Schedule

Recycle Calendar 7_14 to 6_15


Community Meetings on Park and Rec Projects


MeckPark & Rec

Community Meetings Set for Park, Greenway and Nature Preserve Projects

Over the next several months, Park and Recreation will host several community information sessions to update residents on the design and enhancement of various parks, nature preserves and greenways throughout the County. Below is the meeting schedule, which is also available at if you or your constituents want to attend. All meetings begin at 6 p.m.:





June 9

Campbell Creek Greenway Information Session #2 (Design Phase for 1.0 mile greenway extension from W.T. Harris Boulevard to Lockmont Drive)

Hornet’s Nest Girl Scout Council Office, 7007 Idlewild Road

June 10

Reid Neighborhood Park Information Session #3 (Design Phase for a new neighborhood park)

Reid Park Academy, 4108 West Tyvola Road.


June 11

Evergreen Nature Preserve (Design Phase for Phase 1 development of a new nature preserve)

Winterfield Elementary School, 3100 Winterfield Place

June 18

Flat Branch Nature Preserve

(Design Phase for Phase 1 development of a new nature preserve)

Polo Ridge Elementary School, 11830 Tom Short Road

July 15

Veterans Park Shelter (Design Phase for renovation of existing indoor shelter)

Veterans Park, 2136 Central Avenue

July 29

West Charlotte Recreation Center (Design Phase for renovation of existing facility)

West Charlotte Recreation Center, 2401 Kendall Drive

August 4

Southwest Community Park (Design Phase for 2 ball fields, parking, shelter)

Southview Recreation Center, 1720 Vilma Street

August 11

Long Creek Greenway Information Session #2 (Design Phase for 1.0 mile greenway from I-77 to Dixon Branch at Northlake Target store)

Hornet’s Nest Park, 6301 Beatties Ford Road

August 19

Hornet’s Nest Park Shelter (Design Phase for new large indoor shelter)

Hornet’s Nest Park, 6301 Beatties Ford Road

September 8

Irwin Creek Greenway Information Session #2 (Design Phase for .5 mile greenway extension from Remount Road to West Blvd)

Revolution Park Sports Academy,1225 Remount Road

September 15

Cordelia Park Shelter/Charles Park Shelter/Cordelia Underpass (Design Phase for new indoor shelter at Cordelia Park , an open-air shelter at Charles Park and an extension of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway under Parkwood Avenue to Cordelia Park)

Belmont Center, 700 Parkwood Avenue

September 18

Ramsey Creek Swim Beach (Design Phase for new swim beach at Ramsey Creek Park)

Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Avenue



For more information, contact Jim Garges, Park and Recreation director, at 704-335-5470 or via email.


Middle-class Americans leading the solar rooftop revolution

Join the solar revolution! Find out how Solarize Charlotte can make home solar installation affordable and easy!

Middle-class Americans leading the solar rooftop revolution

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Last year, CAP found that in Arizona, California, and New Jersey – the three largest solar markets in the United States – the majority of solar panels being installed are in areas with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. And this year, CAP found that emerging solar markets in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York are following similar patterns. More than 80% of installations in New York and nearly 70% of installations in Massachusetts occur in areas with incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000.”

Skyrocketing solar numbers

“The U.S. installed 1,330 MWdc of solar PV in Q1 2014, up 79% over Q1 2013, making it the second-largest quarter for solar installations in the history of the market.” More inspiring figures here.

US Solar PV installations grew by 73% during the first quarter of 2014

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“US solar panel installations climbed to a record 1.3 GW in the first quarter of 2014, according the SEIA quarterly report.”

Carbon pollution standards can save Americans $37.4 Billion

First-ever protections from carbon pollution from power plants “can save American households and business customers $37.4 billion on their electric bills in 2020 while creating more than 274,000 jobs…”

U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For the First Time


Great news!

In addition to being the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power, a method of large-scale solar generation that uses a unique ‘salt battery’ to allow the solar plant to keep producing power even when the sun goes down, it was also the first time in the history of SEIA’s reports that residential solar installations surpassed commercial in the same time period. 232 MW of residential PV were installed in the first quarter, compared to 225 MW of commercial solar.

Solar-friendly policies like incentives are particularly important for ensuring middle class families are able to adopt solar power for their homes. And, as a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress found, it’s middle class families that are driving the rooftop solar revolution in the U.S., with “more than 60 percent of solar installations are occurring in zip codes with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000.”

This revolution is a threat to utilities’ current business model, since more customers going solar means they’re buying less electricity from the utility. The result in several states has been a push by utilities to scale back incentives or even charge solar customers an additional fee. In Arizona, for instance, Arizona Public Service (APS) has aggressively sought to undercut residential solar and last fall, the state’s energy regulator voted to add what amounts to a $5 per month surcharge on solar customers. The decision was widely viewed as a compromise, particularly considering the considerable amount of money spent by APS and outside groups, several of which were funded by petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch.

In this various battles, the utilities often claim that solar customers aren’t paying their fair share of costs. But an increase in residential solar not only reduces the amount of electricity coming from polluting sources like coal-fired power plants, it provides a clear value to the utilities that’s often left out when they argue for additional fees. Solar generates during peak hours, when a utility has to provide electricity to more people than at other times during the day and energy costs are at their highest. And solar panels actually feed excess energy back to the grid, helping to alleviate the pressure during peak demand. In addition, because less electricity is being transmitted to customers through transmission lines, it saves utilities on the wear and tear to the lines and cost of replacing them with new ones.

Read the full article at U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For the First Time

May 29 Webinar – Residential Solar in North Carolina: What you need to know


Residential Solar in North Carolina: What you need to know

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1:00-2:00pm ET


The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) continues its webinar series with a presentation on residential solar in North Carolina. The presentation will provide valuable information on the options and tradeoffs for homeowners thinking about going solar in the Tar Heel state. It will also include overviews and insights into two Solarize Campaigns currently accelerating residential solar adoption for North Carolinians.

This webinar will be moderated by Charlie Coggeshall, Renewable Energy Manager for SACE.

Guest speakers include:

  • Jim Kennerly, North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC). Jim will highlight the details and options that every customer interested in going solar needs to know, as he provides an overview of NCSC’s recent reports: Residential Customer Guide to Going Solar.
  • Katie Bray, Solarize Asheville. Katie will provide some background on the “Solarize” movement, and the successes and lessons learned with Solarize Asheville over the past year.
  • Jeff Redwine, Renewable Energy Design Group, L3C (RED Group). Jeff will discuss why RED Group was selected as the solar contractor for Solarize Charlotte, and the status and outlook for that campaign.

This program was developed in collaboration with and supported by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Solarize Charlotte.

Register today!

For more information, contact:

Happy Mothers’ Day – Why Moms Love Solar

Thanks to Hanna Mitchell and Greenpeace for this great message. And special thanks for these Charlotte area Solar Moms – Deanna Hamm, Cynthia Redwine, Kathy Sparrow, and Desiree Zytkow – who talk about the water and air pollution from coal, the benefits of solar and their concerns for their children’s health and future. Please enjoy and share!

5 Reasons Why Moms Love Solar

By Hanna Mitchell

This Mothers’ Day, moms are taking a stand for solar. Check out this video that shines a light on the stories of solar moms. Moms not only support the use of solar energy to meet home energy needs, but women are increasingly driving the decision to go solar. One household at a time, moms are leading the way to a cleaner, safer and more affordable energy future. Here are some of the reasons why moms are proudly putting panels on their roofs.

1.) Installing solar brings down monthly energy bills: As the industry expands, the cost of solar is coming down fast, and promises to keep dropping. Nationwide, the average cost of solar panels has declined 60% since 2011. Moms appreciate the power of solar to reduce energy bills and these days, as much as 80% of women control household budgets. Solar is a smart financial investment because an installation can return two to four times its cost in saved energy bills, while also increasing the resale value of a home.

2.) Solar means clean air and water: Solar energy does not produce pollution or waste and contributes to healthier communities. Going solar also reduces the demand on the grid which diminishes the need for dirty energy plants. As caregivers, moms appreciate that solar does not create pollution that causes health issues such as asthma and cancer.

3.) Solar mitigates climate change: By switching to solar, the average household can save tons of greenhouse gas emissions and help diminish extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes, droughts, and severe cold fronts. Putting solar on your roof contributes to creating a healthier climate for future generations.

4.) Solar supports the local economy: Solar installations require skilled labor that cannot be outsourced. As of November 2013, the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 people and grew 19.9% from 2012. Going solar supports jobs for thousands of American families.

5.) Solar demonstrates energy leadership: One of the major questions for the next generation is how we will supply our energy needs. Going solar is a bold decision to become part of the solution to a more just and sustainable energy future.

But don’t just take my word for it! Check out this inspiring video about moms in North Carolina that are standing up for solar.