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In 12 a.m. Session, NC House Gives Energy Bill Its Final OK

North Carolina legislative building
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The North Carolina House gave its final approval to wide-ranging energy legislation during an unusual overnight session early Thursday.

The chamber met briefly after midnight to complete the second of two required votes on the measure, which now heads to the Senate.

The first vote happened early Wednesday evening, but Democrats unhappy with the legislation blocked an immediate second vote. House Speaker Tim Moore announced the Thursday session would begin at 12:01 a.m. because several colleagues would be unavailable to vote during the daylight hours.

The bill pushed by Republican leaders would retire early several Duke Energy power plants fueled by coal and expand solar production. The measure also lets Duke Energy seek multiyear rate increases, rather than year by year, and directs the utility to find a location for a new type of nuclear power plant.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and many manufacturers are among the bill's opponents, citing in part costs to ratepayers and the shift of authority away from the state Utilities Commission. Environmental advocates say the coal-fired plant retirements rely too much on shifting to natural gas for electricity.

Thursday's final vote of 57-49 included five Republicans who voted against the measure. Roughly a dozen House members had excused absences.

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