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Bill on energy standards takes backwards step

RALEIGH – North Carolina House Bill 201, which would have lessened energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings, has been re-referred to a Senate committee, casting doubt on its passing during this legislative term, which will likely end by the end of next month.

If passed, HB 201 would have returned the state’s energy conservation code to 2009 standards, reducing building costs by an estimated 30 percent, according to reports. The 2012 energy standards, which the state has been using, require more efficient building materials in walls and insulation; more efficient windows; and heat pumps, among other things, said Dave Simpson, N.C. government relations and building director with CarolinasAGC, a construction trade association.

HB 201 on May 14 passed the House in an 80-35 vote, before moving to the Senate. The bill made it onto the Senate calendar on June 20, but was moved to the June 26 calendar for a vote. Before Senators ever got a chance to vote, however, the bill was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Now the bill faces an uphill battle to return to the docket before the General Assembly adjourns, although it’s unclear when that may be. The N.C. Constitution doesn’t give a specific adjournment date, although it’s not expected to last past July.

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