Commentary: Renewable energy is an economic issue, not a partisan one

It is the reality of the world in which we live — Republicans and Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly are often divided on complex social and economic issues. However, over 80 percent of legislation, including energy-related bills, are passed with strong bipartisan support. True, there have been some contentious debates over the right path to expanding the renewable energy economy in North Carolina, but earlier this summer it appeared as though we had turned a corner in building consensus on prioritizing renewable energy as an economic driver in our state. The North Carolina House voted 108-11 to pass an energy bill that had been hammered out over the course of a year. Before the vote, more than 30 meetings were held with a diverse set of energy stakeholders  that included utilities, the renewable energy industry, environmental groups and customer advocates.  These groups don’t often collaborate.