A couple of months back, I pondered on whether tech companies would speak out on climate as they did on Indiana's "religious freedom" law. In North Carolina, at least, that now appears to be happening.
As I wrote last week over at North Carolina Sustainability Connection, Apple, Google and Facebook have jointly signed a letter warning North Carolina's legislators not to mess with the state's popular Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS).
The standard, as it currently reads, requires utilities to purchase renewable energy amounting to 6 percent of retail sales, with that mandate set to increase to 10 percent by 2018. House bill 332 (H332), which would freeze the mandate at 6 percent, recently made its way through the Senate Commerce Committee after a highly questionable and contentious voice vote that even some Republicans decried as being "not even close". (Similar language in other bills has failed to move forward several times.)
And this is where Apple, Facebook and Google come in. As businesses that have invested an awful lot in North Carolina, including several massive solar farms to power their data centers, these guys have more clout than most in demanding NC stay the course with its commitment to renewables.
Their letter makes it very clear that REPS was an important influencing factor in locating to North Carolina and, reading between the lines, they are clearly asking legislators to think hard about the implications for future investment:
We respectfully request that the General Assembly not alter the current carefully developed law and policy structure upon which industry has relied for purposes of investment decisions and which has made North Carolina particularly attractive to our businesses. Alterations risk undermining the state's almost decade-long commitment to renewable power and energy efficiency. We support a comprehensive review, in which we would like to participate. In the meantime, to avoid creating new risk and and uncertainty for our businesses, we urge you to keep in place the existing, well balanced and meticulously examined energy policy.
Given the outcry and ridicule that ensued when North Carolina "banned sea level rise" and legalized opossum drops, many of our state senators are actually quite susceptible to charges that they are damaging the state's reputation for business.
Hopefully these tech giants will get them to listen. Anyone else wishing to add their voice to the mix can join the NC Sustainable Energy Association's efforts to lobby Senators.