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New Study: North Carolina’s Economy Will Benefit from Strong Clean Energy Policies

New analysis shows economic, job creation benefits of clean energy and climate legislation

On the eve of U.S. Senate deliberations on climate legislation, North Carolina business leaders today released a new economic study showing major economic growth and job gains in North Carolina if strong climate and energy policies are passed in Washington.
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RALEIGH, NC Oct 26, 2009

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On the eve of U.S. Senate deliberations on climate legislation, North Carolina business leaders today released a new economic study showing major economic growth and job gains in North Carolina if strong climate and energy policies are passed in Washington.

The study, conducted by the University of California in partnership with the University of Illinois and Yale University, finds that strong federal climate legislation could create up to 65,000 jobs in North Carolina by 2020, while increasing average real household incomes $1,159 per year and growing the state economy by over $4 billion. The economic gains are over and above the growth that North Carolina would see in the absence of climate and energy legislation.

“This report shows that the stronger the federal energy and climate policies, the more North Carolina and the rest of the country stand to gain economically,” said David Roland-Holst, the report’s co-author and a professor of economics at the University of California. “Those who say we cannot afford to take action now need to realize we could miss a huge opportunity by not acting.”

“This report is consistent with the business growth we are seeing in our real estate market,” said Michael Lemanski, managing partner of Greenfire Development, a community development company based in Durham. “Many of the most dynamic and growing companies that are relocating into downtown Durham are clean economy companies that will benefit from comprehensive climate change legislation. Our region’s intellectual capital and entrepreneurial experience puts us in a great position to take advantage of these much-needed legislative changes.”

Using a state-of-the-art forecasting model, the study evaluated the economic implications of three key components of federal climate legislation – energy efficiency, renewable energy and a cap-and-trade program for reducing carbon emissions – on the state of North Carolina. The study models moderate and aggressive implementation of policies that cap carbon emissions, create a market-based program to achieve emission reductions, and set strong standards and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

North Carolina specific findings include:

  • Aggressive policy implementation results in greater economic and job growth in North Carolina by 2020 than moderate policies or no policies;
  • The strongest policies could generate up to 65,000 additional jobs in North Carolina, increase North Carolina’s real Gross Domestic Product by up to $4.1 billion, and real household income by $1,159 per year (as measured in 2008 dollars) by 2020;
  • Even moderate policy implementation drives economic growth in North Carolina, generating $900,000 million in GDP, more than 17,000 new jobs and $230 per household income growth;
  • More carbon dependent state economies such as North Carolina have more to gain from climate action, assuming they adopt balanced policies that combine all three pillars (energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon pollution limits).
  • Michael Shore, whose Asheville-based solar energy company has grown 10-fold the past few years, was bullish about the report findings.

“The solar age has arrived. FLS Energy has grown from three to 40 employees in just the last three years,” said Shore, president of FLS Energy, a solar generation company. “Policies to cap global warming pollution will enable us to double or even triple our North Carolina workforce over the next year.”

“Most people don’t realize that North Carolina imports the vast majority of energy our states uses. If we focus on using our energy more efficiently and step up as a leader in implementing next-generation technologies like solar and wind, North Carolina stands to benefit tremendously from policies that encourage energy independence,” added Maria Kingery, co-founder of Southern Energy Management, a Raleigh-based company that performs commercial, residential and industrial solar installations and energy efficiency. “We can put our people to work doing jobs they are proud to do and grow our economy at the same time – that’s a big win for our people and our state.”

According to the study, co-released today by the investor coalition Ceres, E2 and the Clean Economy Network, the legislation would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs nationally, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year, and boost GDP by $39 billion-$111 billion by 2020. For more details on the study, visit


Results from the EAGLE study are consistent with projections by agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Congressional Budget Office and the Department of Energy – all of which show substantial economic benefits from more efficient energy use.

“Improving energy efficiency cuts costs for transportation, heating, cooling and other energy demands,” said Roland-Holst, the report’s co-author. “Money saved on energy puts dollars back in household bank accounts, and gives consumers the freedom to spend on things they want. This spending represents 70 percent of Gross State Product, so it represents potent growth and job stimulus for North Carolina’s economy.”

About the Study
The Environmental Assessment in General Equilibrium (EAGLE) model was developed at the University of California in collaboration with the University of Illinois and Yale University. It details patterns of supply, demand, employment, incomes, resource allocation, energy use, and emissions across the nation and within each of the 50 United States. Using a general equilibrium framework, the model captures both direct impacts and the extensive economy-wide indirect effects of climate and energy policies. The EAGLE model has been peer reviewed and technical documentation is available on request.

About Ceres, the Clean Economy Network and E2
Ceres is a national investor coalition working with leading investors and companies to address the business risks and opportunities posed by global climate change. The Clean Economy Network is a national advocacy association for the cleantech and green business community. Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national community of individual business leaders who advocate for good environmental policy while building economic prosperity.