NORTH CAROLINA

NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina’s mountainous western landscape eases to coastal plains in the east, where the state boasts 322 miles of coastline and, at over 12 thousand miles, the second-largest estuarine system in the country. Off North Carolina’s coast are the Outer Banks, the site of the first European colony in the 1500s, which are now rapidly disappearing into the Atlantic Ocean as the sea levels rise. Home to about 10.5 million people and stretching almost 50 thousand square miles, North Carolina is also home to 8 Native American tribes and 4 urban Indian organizations. Among those are the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who have reclaimed a sovereign nation of 100 square miles.

Both coastal and inland flooding are urgent threats in North Carolina. Sea levels along the Atlantic Coast are rising even more rapidly than elsewhere, because the coast is also sinking due to erosion. Over 120 thousand people are currently at risk of coastal flooding in and that number is expected to rise by 44 thousand by 2050. Higher sea levels also make it more likely that storm surges breach barriers — a concern as tropical storms and hurricanes intensify in warmer waters. Since 1958, the amount of precipitation during heavy rainstorms has increased 27% in the Southeast, a trend that is projected to continue. Almost half a million people in North Carolina are living in an area with elevated risk of inland flooding.

Clearly no stranger to hurricanes and wet weather, North Carolina has been hit exceptionally hard in recent years. The most devastating, Hurricane Florence (September, 2018), caused at least $13 billion in damages, as well as knocking out power for 1.1 million North Carolinians, and costing 142 people their lives. It hit as the state was still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew (2016), which created widespread flooding, much of which lingered for weeks after the rains had stopped — the soil too saturated to allow water to infiltrate and the slope of the land too shallow to create much possibility for drainage. And, then came Hurricane Michael (October, 2018), knocking out power for thousands and flooding the Northern Outer Banks. Dorian was the one to remember in 2019 as was Isaias in August, 2020, bringing 15 tornadoes along with it. As oceans warm, hurricanes will get wetter and heavier, primed to dispense thousands of gallons on coastal regions and low-lying areas, flooding homes, destroying infrastructure, and endangering lives.

North Carolina remains one of the top ten nuclear energy producers in the US. Nuclear energy was the largest source of electricity in North Carolina in 2019, providing almost one-third of the state’s electricity. Natural gas provided only slightly less exceeding coal-fired generation for the first time since 2016. Prior to 2012, coal-fired power plants supplied more than half of the electricity generated in North Carolina; however, nearly 30 coal-fired units have since been retired and 30 natural gas-fired units added. By 2019, coal provided less than one-fourth. More than 10% of electricity in North Carolina comes from renewable energy,  the majority of which is solar, followed by hydroelectricity, biomass and a small, but potentially growing amount of wind as Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina agreed, in October 2021, to join forces to build offshore power projects. North Carolina ranks second after California in the country for installed solar generating capacity.

North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Energy Standard in 2007. The RES requires investor-owned utilities to meet 12.5% of their sales from renewable energy by 2021, while rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric suppliers were required to meet 10% by 2018. In 2020, North Carolina released its Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, the culmination of an interdisciplinary effort mandated in 2018 by Governor Roy Cooper. This is the state’s first adaptation plan and includes vulnerability assessments across 11 sectors, climate justice concerns and strategies, and recommendations for nature-based solutions to enhance ecosystem resiliency and carbon sequestering. In October, 2021, the governor signed House Bill 951 turning a compromise on North Carolina’s energy future between his office and legislative Republicans into law. A milestone energy bill, which aims to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power plants, setting carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets of 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050 for Duke Energy, this revised version of House Bill 951 will shape North Carolina’s energy mix for decades. In a ceremony with legislators from both parties, Governor Cooper enacted a law that now tasks the state Utilities Commission with coming up by the end of 2022 with the arrangements to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goals sought by the governor.

At least 16 states previously have passed legislation establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The only other Southeast state to have done so before Wednesday was Virginia.

North Carolina is one of twenty-four states, along with Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2021

11/12/21
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE UTILITIES COMMISSION TO (I) TAKE ALL REASONABLE STEPS TO ACHIEVE A SEVENTY PERCENT REDUCTION IN EMISSIONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE FROM ELECTRIC PUBLIC UTILITIES FROM 2005 LEVELS BY THE YEAR 2030…

Climate change: North Carolina gov signs major energy law

10/14/21
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina signed a milestone energy bill into law Wednesday that aims to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power plants by 2030, celebrating the legislative accomplishment with…

Climate change challenges trout industry in North Carolina

By Emma Johnson 05/01/21
Raising trout in Western North Carolina is a time — and labor — intensive process, and the growing threat of climate change only worsens the situation, creating difficulties for hatcheries and recreational fisherman. Producing trout…

Preparing for Climate Change in North Carolina

08/30/20
This page provides an overview of the steps North Carolina is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Cumberland County, North Carolina, Climate Resiliency Plan

04/11/19
Updated in 2018, Sustainable Sandhills facilitated a climate adaptation planning process through the Climate Solutions University (CSU): Forest and Water Strategies program that produced the Cumberland County Climate Resiliency Plan (C3RP) in 2016. CSU challenges…

North Carolina Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, 2016

04/10/19
In 2012, the North Carolina Climate and Health Adaptation Plan was developed. Since then, additional climate and health work has led the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch to update…

KEY RESOURCES

North Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/18/21
North Carolina rises from its Atlantic Ocean coastline to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River—Mount Mitchell, which stands more than a mile above sea level at 6,684 feet. The state's terrain ranges from…

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets and Market-based Policies

09/22/21
States have implemented a variety of policies aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At least 16 states and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation establishing GHG emissions reduction requirements, with more requiring state agencies to…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The State of Climate Adaptation in Public Health An Assessment of 16 U.S. States

10/06/20
EcoAdaptpartnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to assess the state of climate adaptation planning and implementation for climate-related threats to public health in 16 U.S. states.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in North Carolina

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, North Carolina experienced five tropical cyclones, five severe storms, two winter storms, and one freeze. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

North Carolina Coastal Flooding

09/16/20
Climate change causing more nuisance flooding in North Carolina. Today, North Carolina has 122,000 people at risk of coastal flooding. By 2050, an additional 44,000 people are projected to be at risk due to sea…

What Climate Change Means for North Carolina

09/16/20
North Carolina’s climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed one-half to one degree (F) in the last century, and the sea is rising about one inch every decade.

State-by-State: Climate Change in North Carolina

08/06/20
North Carolina climate and energy facts

North Carolina Renewable Energy

02/27/20
An introduction to renewable energy in North Carolina from Arcadia, an online energy service that is making the process of converting to clean energy more accessible to homeowners and renters across the country.

NC Sustainable Energy Network

02/27/20
The NC Sustainable Energy Association is a leading organization of individuals, businesses, government, and nonprofits interested in North Carolina's sustainable energy future. Our mission is to drive policy and market development to create clean energy…

NC Clean Energy Technology Center

02/27/20
The Center provides services to the businesses and citizens of North Carolina and beyond relating to the development and adoption of clean energy technologies. Through its programs and activities, we envision and seek to promote…

Floodplain Regulations Technical Guidance Document

01/09/20
The responsibility for reducing flood losses is shared by all units of government—local, state and federal—and the private sector. In order to fulfill this responsibility, land owners and/or professionals planning any “Development” activity within the…

MORE NEWS

PEW

Seafood, Seagrass, and Storms: North Carolina Plan Would Protect Coast—and Livelihoods

By Leda Cunningham  Photo: Anne Chamberlain Getty Images   10/12/21  
Bordered in part by a thin chain of barrier islands—the Outer Banks—the sounds, shorelines, and marshes of North Carolina’s coast form one of the largest estuary systems in the country. The seagrass found in its…

NC Republican leaders, Gov. Cooper reach compromise on controversial energy bill

By Lucille Sherman and Adam Wagner  Photo: AP   10/01/21  
Duke Energy would be able to lock in rate increases over a three-year period under a compromise N.C. Senate Republicans and Gov. Roy Cooper struck this week on a piece of controversial energy legislation.  

Hurricane Dorian Swamps North Carolina’s Outer Banks

By The New York Times   09/07/21  
The storm pelted North Carolina with rain and wind. Hurricane Dorian, the storm that devastated the Bahamas and put much of the southeastern United States on edge, battered the coast of North Carolina with heavy…

Climate Change Is Bankrupting America’s Small Towns

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Mike Belleme , The New York Times   09/02/21  
 It’s been almost five years since Hurricane Matthew flooded this small town on the coastal plain of North Carolina. But somehow, the damage keeps getting worse.

House environmental budget appropriates money for flood control … then rolls back flood control protections

By Lisa Sorg   08/11/21  
The House amended the budget Wednesday night to strip the isolated wetlands language from the bill. The House released its $25.7 billion budget proposal this week, and unlike previous legislative sessions when lawmakers held a veto-proof majority,…

Interior Department to review proposal for first wind power project off North Carolina coast

By Zack Budryk   07/29/21  
The Interior Department is set to conduct an environmental review of a proposed wind energy project that, if approved, would be the first off the coast of North Carolina, the department announced Thursday.

Colonial Pipeline could face enormous daily fine after massive NC fuel leak, feds say

By Joe Marusak   07/09/21  
Colonial Pipeline Co. could face daily fines of up to $200,000 per violation if it fails to improve the way it detects leaks in its U.S. pipeline system, after a massive gasoline leak in Huntersville,…

Tiny Town, Big Decision: What Are We Willing to Pay to Fight the Rising Sea?

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo by Erin Schaff   03/14/21  
Bobby Outten, a county manager in the Outer Banks, delivered two pieces of bad news at a recent public meeting. Avon, a town with a few hundred full-time residents, desperately needed at least $11 million…

North Carolina panel moves to weaken building energy conservation rules

By Elizabeth Ouzts  Photo: Creative Commons   01/07/21  
A change to North Carolina’s building code would let developers skimp on insulation and other energy-saving basics in exchange for flashier elements such as solar panels and super-efficient appliances.

North Carolina’s 2020 Hurricane Season

By Chief Meteorologist Gary Stephenson North Carolina   12/01/20  
The 2020 Atlantic Basin tropical season was predicted to be an active one, and it was. More specifically, North Carolina saw its fair share of storms in 2020.

As mold grows in the aftermath of hurricanes, more NC asthma patients suffer

By Lynn Bonner   10/30/20  
In North and South Carolina, sea-level rise is most noticeable in counties along the coast, where beaches shrink, dunes disappear and homes crumble, but the effects of climate change reach well inland. “Beyond the Beach”…

Three states — Maryland, Virginia, N. Carolina — to collaborate on offshore wind projects

By Patricia Sullivan  Photo by Steve Helber   10/29/20  
The windblown coastal states of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina will join forces to build offshore power projects and promote the region as a hub for offshore wind energy and industry, the states’ governors announced…

The Effects Of Climate Change Are Already Impacting North Carolinians

By Stacia Brown & Frank Stasio   10/22/20  
It’s estimated that annual average temperatures in North Carolina will rise between 2 and 5 degrees by the middle of this century, and 2019 was the warmest year on record for the state. This heat…

Deadly flesh-eating bacteria is rising in Carolina waterways

By Gabrielle Fonrouge  Photo by Alisha Bube   10/20/20  
Rising temperatures and sea levels have led to a proliferation of a deadly, flesh-eating bacteria in the Carolina waterways, a report said Tuesday.

Climate change ‘threat multiplier’ means extra risk of heat illness in rural NC

By Adam Wagner   10/20/20  
In North and South Carolina, sea-level rise is most noticeable in counties along the coast, where beaches shrink, dunes disappear and homes crumble, but the effects of climate change reach well inland. “Beyond the Beach”…

Poll shows N.C. voters want climate change response. Here’s where the candidates stand

By Dair Mcninch   10/19/20  
Whether it's from an increase in coastal storms and flooding or the impacts rising statewide temperatures have had on farming, the issue of climate change is expected to be more apparent in the November election…

Capital Power executes 20-year contracts for three solar development projects in North Carolina totaling 160 megawatts

10/19/20  
Capital Power Corporation (Capital Power or the Company) (TSX: CPX) announced today the execution of 20-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Carolinas for three solar development projects located in North Carolina totaling 160 megawatts…

How the Carolinas could come together on energy market changes

By John Downey   10/19/20  
South Carolina’s recent decision to establish a study committee to propose legislation to reform the traditional utility monopolies appears to be pushing North Carolina legislators to similar action.

Capital Power inks PPAs with Duke Energy Carolinas for 160-MW solar portfolio

By Kelsey Misbrener   10/19/20  
Capital Power Corporation announced the execution of 20-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Carolinas for three solar development projects located in North Carolina totaling 160 MW. The solar projects consist of Hornet Solar (75…

Pandemic points to needed cooperation on the climate crisis

By Drew Shindell and Jim Warren   10/15/20  
In a time of multiple and unprecedented challenges to individuals and societal well-being, our nation badly needs to pull back from the growing acrimony that plagues us and revisit our many shared values.

Bloomberg-backed climate change group spending over $4.5 million

By Jordan Williams  Photo by Getty Images   10/15/20  
A climate change group funded by former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is spending over $4.5 million to back Democratic candidates in North Carolina and Arizona races.

Value in manure: Harvesting methane good for the environment, NC economy

By Tanja Vujic   10/11/20  
What does a Pennsylvania potato farmer’s question at a Joe Biden Town Hall have to do with North Carolina? A lot, actually. It’s not so much about the question, however, as it was about the…

11th District candidates Davis, Cawthorn talk climate change, forest funding, Max Patch

By Karen Chávez  Photo by Angeli Wright   10/08/20  
Western North Carolina’s mountains aren’t just dreamy paintings come to life, from the Blue Ridge to the Great Smokies, they are money makers, global tourism destinations, wildlife havens, outdoor playgrounds and hold hope for climate change…

Boosting Local Efforts Key In Resiliency Plan

By Kirk Ross   10/07/20  
Access to grants for local governments, tools for better planning and more local participation and training are among the strategies in a multiagency push that’s the next step toward incorporating climate science and resiliency planning…

Climate Change Floods North Carolina’s Housing Market

By Jodi Helmer  Photo by Chip Somodevilla   10/06/20  
The communities along the North Carolina coast are among the prettiest places in the state, but their seaside serenity comes with great risk. As climate change brings higher seas and churns up fiercer and more…
EDF

Analysis: North Carolina can curb emissions and reduce costs through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

By Drew Stilson   10/05/20  
As North Carolina Governor Cooper considers policies to reach the state’s climate goals, analysis from EDF and M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) can help get the job…

Governor Roy Cooper Led North Carolina to Act on Climate Change. Will That Help Him Win a 2nd Term?

By James Bruggers  Photo by Jeff Hahne   10/05/20  
"When you have two 500-year floods within two years of each other it's pretty certain it's not a 500-year flood," Cooper told reporters in September 2018.

NC Begins Resilient Communities Program

10/02/20  
Officials announced Thursday a new initiative to help the state prepare for the affects of climate change while reducing damages from future disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and wildfires.

Offshore Moratorium Includes Wind Energy

By Jennifer Allen   10/02/20  
On Sept. 8, President Trump signed an order prohibiting offshore leasing for energy exploration, development or production off the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Trump said Sept. 25 during an event he would…

Largest floating solar power plant in the Southeast coming to Fort Bragg

By Randy Wheeless   09/30/20  
The U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina will soon be home to the largest floating solar plant in the Southeast – a 1.1-megawatt (MW) system as part of a Utility Energy Service Contract (UESC)…

Study Finds Spreading Ghost Forests on N.C. Coast May Contribute to Climate Change

By Laura Oleniacz   09/28/20  
A new study found the spread of ghost forests across a coastal region of North Carolina may have implications for global warming. Ghost forests are areas where rising seas have killed off freshwater-dependent trees, leaving…

Clean Energy Advocates Tout Opportunity

By Catherine Kozak   09/23/20  
The merging of 2020’s climate, economic and health calamities has exposed North Carolina’s vulnerabilities to rising seas and rural poverty. But the multiple crises also clarified that the state’s recovery and its future lie in…

DUKE ENERGY BEGINS WORK ON 94 MW OF NEW SOLAR PROJECTS

By Kenneth J. Gish and Abraham F. Johns   09/23/20  
On July 27, 2020, Duke Energy Corporation (“Duke Energy”) announced the commencement of construction on two new major utility-scale solar projects in western North Carolina.  One project is a 69-megawatt (“MW”) facility located in Maiden, Catawba County, and the…

NC Climate Change Council to Meet Oct. 1

09/21/20  
The North Carolina Climate Change Interagency Council is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m.to noon Oct. 1 by webinar to discuss the State’s Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan.

Cities With the Highest Flood Risk in Every State

By Andrew Lisa   08/23/20  
Floods accounted for three of the 14 natural disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage in the United States in 2019. In total, flooding impacted 14 million Americans last year and put another…

North Carolina Issues New Resilience Plan, Includes Climate Justice Concerns

By Kirian Mischke-Reeds   07/08/20  
In early June, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) submitted the North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan to Governor Cooper’s office. The result of 11 months of discussion with numerous stakeholders…

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

07/05/20  
Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) and Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.

What will Duke Energy’s climate report mean for North Carolina?

By Elizabeth Ouzts  Photo: Ivan Radic / Flickr / Creative Commons   06/15/20  
Critics fear the report charts a business-as-usual pathway that conflicts with the state’s energy goals
edf

North Carolina confronts climate change with forthcoming resilience plan

By Will McDow  Photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr.   05/28/20  
Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Arthur brushed by North Carolina’s Outer Banks two weeks before the official start of hurricane season and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. While damage was minimal, the storm…

Where Storms Are Lore, Folks See Change

By Jennifer Allen  Photo by Lillie Chadwick Miller   05/28/20  
While hurricanes are woven through the history of Down East Carteret County, a remote string of communities on the central North Carolina coast known for its fishing and boatbuilding traditions, Hurricane Florence was a turning…

Signs Of Change Are Clear, If Language Is Not

By Mark Hibbs  Photo by Dylan Ray   05/27/20  
A series of record-breaking hurricanes over the past four years has led to changes in how coastal North Carolina residents and state and elected officials talk about climate change and sea level rise.
edf

Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here’s how we can prepare

05/26/20  
Last week, Tropical Storm Arthur skirted North Carolina’s coast before veering into the Atlantic. While damage was minimal, this marked the sixth straight year that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official…

Saving New Bern, an American treasure

By Jamie Lockwood   05/26/20  
Without question, New Bern is an American historical treasure. It was founded in 1710 and is the second oldest European-settled colonial town in North Carolina -- just after Bath.

The coronavirus has cut traffic and electricity use. But it won’t cure climate change

By Matthew Diasio   05/26/20  
The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented changes to people’s lives as social distancing policies, the best protection against a disease with no vaccine and no widely available treatment, went into effect.

NC’s Turning Point For Climate Science

By Mark Hibbs   05/26/20  
Start a discussion of climate change, sea level rise and the associated effects with residents of the North Carolina coast and reactions and responses will be mixed, but according to polling, attitudes and perceptions here…

Getting Climate Resilience Right in North Carolina

By Rob Moore   05/26/20  
As hurricane season looms especially large this year, and COVID-19 reveals the deep cracks and fissures in our nation’s response preparedness, North Carolina is gearing up to release its long-awaited plan to bolster climate resilience.

‘An exciting milestone’: North Carolina takes first step on offshore wind study

By Elizabeth Ouzts  Photo: Mr.TinDC / Flickr / Creative Commons   05/22/20  
The recently issued request for proposals is a “signal to the offshore wind industry that North Carolina is open for business,” one observer said.

North Carolina sees big loss of clean-energy jobs amid Covid-19 pandemic

By John Downey   05/15/20  
The Covid-19 economic slowdown cost North Carolina more than 26,000 of the nearly 110,000 clean-energy jobs statewide in March and April, according to a new report on the industry.

NC Climate Report Shows Warming Temperatures, Rising Sea Levels

By Eddie Garcia   05/01/20  
A new report on North Carolina’s climate predicts a warmer, wetter, and more humid environment. One of the big takeaways is that 2019 was the hottest year on record for the state. The study says…

Battered by Matthew and Florence, North Carolina Must Brace for More Intense Hurricanes | InsideClimate News

By James Bruggers  Photo by Alex Edelman   04/24/20  
Their doors and windows are missing, with piles of trash and carpeting in the yards, serving as a reminder of what can happen when a major hurricane stalls out over land, dumping more than 30…