Bill defining nuclear as clean energy passes N.C. Senate

April 28, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The North Carolina Senate on April 26 unanimously (48–0) endorsed a measure that, if signed into law, would open the door to new nuclear development in the state—both fission and fusion.

The Promote Clean Energy bill (S.B. 678)—introduced just this month and now with the state’s House for consideration—replaces the term “renewable energy” in statutory language with “clean energy” and adds nuclear to the new term’s definition.

According to S.B. 678, “clean energy resource” includes solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, “waste heat derived from a clean energy source and used to produce electricity or useful, measurable thermal energy at a retail electric customer’s facility,” and “nuclear energy resources, including an uprate to a nuclear energy facility, fusion energy, or hydrogen derived from a clean energy resource.”

The current language of North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard specifically excludes nuclear, along with fossil fuels.


Bill backers: Sen. Paul Newton (R., Dist. 34), the chamber’s majority leader and S.B. 678’s lead sponsor (as well as a former Duke Energy North Carolina president), championed the legislation earlier in the week at a Senate Rules Committee hearing. The bill “recognizes the role that nuclear [energy] is going to play in the future of cost-effectively meeting these target carbon-reduction goals in the future,” he said. “It also recognizes that fusion energy may be a contributor to our success in the future, and that we are wide open in North Carolina to welcoming fusion technology here in our state.”

André Béliveau, strategic projects and government affairs manager at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank, also advocated for S.B. 678 before the Rules Committee, noting, “Any endeavor seeking to lower carbon emissions while also seeking to maintain the reliability of any energy grid must have nuclear as part of the mix. . . . The John Locke Foundation supports the General Assembly’s efforts to embrace nuclear power as a clean, reliable energy source for North Carolina as part of our state’s energy future.”

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