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Zack Hawkins
Democrat | NC House of Representatives District 31

What do you consider to be the most pressing energy-related issue(s) today? 

The most pressing energy-related issues in North Carolina, and the United States, are electric vehicle infrastructure, solar energy, and consistent policies to lower rates for every American. In order to make elective vehicles an option for more people, North Carolina must take advantage of funding from policies like the Inflation Reduction Act to build charging stations and infrastructure. Additionally, clean energy policies should make energy more affordable for American, not more expensive. North Carolina is a top-3 state for solar energy, but we must invest and support this growth in a way that doesn’t make energy more expensive for people. Electric vehicle infrastructure is only the first step in moving North Carolina towards a clean energy economy that works for all of us.   


How do you propose addressing the above issue(s)? What policies would you advance or support to achieve these solutions (NC Clean Transportation Plan, Carbon Tax/Trading, etc.)?  

I believe that we can build on the electric vehicle policies in the Inflation Reduction Act to make North Carolina a leader in EV infrastructure. I also believe that we must improve energy efficiency as the number one way to keep costs low. State investments and public-private partnerships can drive innovation in the already-strong solar economy right here in North Carolina, providing more clean, affordable energy to all corners of the state. Right now, the solar industry is over-crowded with big companies, which keeps prices high and limits innovation. We need more competition to provide energy to all.  



If elected, how will your work help position North Carolina to both address energy and climate issues and improve our energy systems?  

If re-elected, I will work to implement the policies necessary to create electric vehicle infrastructure, increase opportunity for small companies in the solar industry through investment programs, and push North Carolina’s power companies to provide affordable energy to the communities with the most need. 


What actions or policy measures can help NC adapt to extreme weather events?  

After Hurricane Michael, infrastructure in eastern North Carolina needed more investment. The state government rose to the challenge by implementing emergency management systems, a command center to provide resources to hard-hit localities, and flooding investments in the 2019-2020 budget. In order to build disaster resiliency, North Carolina should continue along this path and look at infrastructure development in flood-prone areas, increased funding for resilience programs, and better local resources to meet needs of localities post-disaster and during evacuation. 


How should the United States develop national energy independence? What role does North Carolina play in securing an energy independent future?  

Energy independence, better termed energy security, hangs on decreased reliance on fossil fuels, oil, and gas. North Carolina is making an investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, and energy security must include preparation for a long-term transition to EVs. Additionally, North Carolina’s robust solar economy can contribute to the clean energy grid and push our state and nation towards energy security. 


How can NC take measures to support communities which depend on the fossil fuel industry throughout the energy transition?  

We must also loosen regulations so everyone can participate in our energy-efficient future. Currently, the energy sector has an anti-competitive stranglehold on progress; localized cooperatives can provide better energy options in hard to reach areas of North Carolina, driving us towards energy security. 


What role does offshore wind generation have in NC’s energy future?  

North Carolina’s terrain is uniquely situated to take advantage of wind energy. Offshore wind generation can be one more tool in toolkit for energy transition and energy efficient future. Additionally, our state must set clear energy goals in order to maximize resources. The North Carolina Department of Energy Quality is currently setting these goals, but the General Assembly hasn’t given the department the authority or enforcement tools to truly push progress. It’s time to fix that. Currently wind energy isn’t even 1% of the energy in North Carolina’s grid – an increase to even 5% can help North Carolina replace the expensive, finite energy resources with clean, affordable energy. 


Does NC have an obligation to provide aid to communities adversely affected by the fossil fuel industry? If so, how?  

North Carolina has an obligation to aid and support all communities in the state, especially those adversely affected by the fossil fuel industry. We must build an energy plan that doesn’t leave any counties behind. We can demonstrate this commitment by making resources available to energy-insecure counties and those with high fossil fuel reliance, including by funding jobs and incentives to bring all North Carolinians into our new energy economy. 


How should regulations for utility companies consider energy efficiency, weatherization, and/or renewable procurement programs for underrepresented population?  Unrepresented populations include those such as seniors, veterans, and lower income individuals. 

We need to just make energy affordable, plain and simple. The levels of profit in the energy sector, possible in part due to infrastructure investments from the state government, means that North Carolina’s biggest energy companies can and should be subsidizing energy in our highest-need communities. This includes working with the state government to serve underrepresented populations. Our state has made a commitment to our energy economy – it’s high time these companies make the same commitment back to our communities. 

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