RALEIGH – North Carolina is ready to grab more than its fair share of the clean economy, says a state economic development leader.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) received a clean energy champion award Wednesday for its work to expand the state’s large and growing clean-energy economic sector.

As part of his keynote speech at the event, Christopher Chung, CEO of EDPNC, said that the state has a healthy clean energy economy—and is ready to grow it even more.

“Clean energy is here because the private sector economy believes that is where the world is headed, and that is where their customers want to be in the coming years,” said Chung in his speech. “No reason we should not grab our unfair share of those jobs and investment for the people of North Carolina.”

Christopher Chung, CEO of EDPNC, speaking at the 2023 Clean Energy Champion Awards event.

The awards were presented during a luncheon at City Club Raleigh hosted by Conservatives for Clean Energy North Carolina and the Chambers for Innovation & Clean Energy.

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Clean Energy and North Carolina’s Economic Development

Chung remarked on the impact of clean energy on North Carolina’s economic development.

“Over the past few years, North Carolina has welcomed more than 80,000 new jobs and $40 billion of investment into our state, much of which is stemming from the clean energy economy,” said Chung in his speech.

He also pointed to business that might be coming our way.

“As of this moment, we’re competing for 250 active business recruitment and expansion projects,” said Chung. “One out of every seven of those deals is in the electric vehicle or electric vehicle-adjacent sector. One out of every seven is also in the renewable energy sector.”

Chung says that the choice to focus on clean energy isn’t an “either-or.”

“I don’t know about you guys, but my parents always taught me to leave things as good as, if not better, than how you found them,” said Chung. “And there’s no reason that shouldn’t apply to the world that we call home, right? And at the same time, we have to get economic growth and prosperity for our people. We have to attract jobs and industry and investment so that the residents and communities of North Carolina can live to their fullest potential. People on both ends of the political extremes would suggest that environment and economy are mutually incompatible and that has to be a choice. That’s not true.”

Chung said his office is focused on both outcomes.

“It doesn’t have to be ‘either-or,’ and I think that’s what’s so promising about the clean energy economy is it allows us to do both of those things equally well,” said Chung. “We can grow our economy, we can attract jobs and investment. We can all do it in the name of preserving this beautiful state and this one planet.”

North Carolina’s 2023 Clean Energy Champions

North Carolina’s 2023 Clean Energy Champions recognized EDPNC alongside five other people and organizations, including a state legislator, a member of Congress, another economic development organization, and two North Carolina businesses, according to a press release about the event.

Winners were:

  • State Rep. Kyle Hall, a Republican representing Forsyth and Stokes counties, received a state legislative leader award, issued jointly by Conservatives for Clean Energy North Carolina and Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. Hall was honored for leading legislation on solar net metering, solar leasing, funding in the state budget for university energy centers, and a proposed study of utility market reforms that would cut energy costs and improve reliability.
  • Congressman Patrick McHenry, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District, received a federal clean energy champion award for his support of clean-energy policies and innovation.
  • ABB E-mobility received a clean energy champion award for its efforts to inform North Carolina’s legislators, governor, state agency heads, and other decision-makers about the importance of pro-electric transportation policies and programs.
  • Durham’s Mystic Farm & Distillery received a clean energy champion award for operating the world’s largest solar-powered bourbon distillery, which has a zero-waste production process.
  • The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance received a clean energy champion award for providing the clean-energy perspective of businesses throughout its growing 14-county region.