North Carolina state representative John Szoka has become a champion of solar energy, but the conservative Republican did not always feel that way.

North Carolina legislature building
North Carolina State Legislative Building, Raleigh

He used to believe solar was unproven, expensive and dependent on taxpayer money. But a lobbyist inspired him to do some research of his own. He found that solar estimates usually include building costs, such as the panels and the connection to the grid. But fossil fuel estimates typically do not include infrastructure.

SZOKA: “So what you’re doing is comparing apples to oranges. And I saw that, and I dug deeper into it, and the numbers show that renewables can, in fact, pay for themselves.”

John Szoka
N.C. state representative John Szoka

But then he realized that legal reforms are needed to open up North Carolina’s solar markets. So last year he authored a bill to allow companies to own and operate solar panels on a customer’s property. Instead of selling the power to the utility, the company would charge the customer directly, at a lower price, for the electricity.

With that approach, industry and the military, including Fort Bragg, which is in Szoka’s district, could meet their renewable energy goals more affordably.

Carolina lawmaker does his own research, leading him to support solar. Click To Tweet

SZOKA: “If we can have cleaner air, cleaner water, and more sustainable energy, what’s not to like about that in a free market economy?”

Reporting credit: Pam Memmott/ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
North Carolina General Assembly House Bill 245
NC ‘Energy Freedom Act’ designed to spur expansion of solar power
Controversial bill to open North Carolina solar markets gains traction

Topics: Policy & Politics