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Janet Yellen visits the Triangle to tout clean energy economy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the triangle Tuesday to talk about the economic benefits of federal clean energy investments and tour renewable sites in Durham and Chapel Hill.

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Liz McLaughlin
, WRAL Climate Change Reporter

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited the triangle Tuesday to talk about the economic benefits of federal clean energy investments.

Yellen called the Biden administration’s plan the most aggressive action that the U.S. has ever taken to address the climate crisis, securing more than $430 billion between the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Supporters of that legislation were in attendance, including Democratic representatives Deborah Ross and David Price.

“These investments will accelerate the transition to our green energy future and lower energy costs for American households and businesses,” Yellen said in a speech at a solar field in Chapel Hill, adding that modernizing energy infrastructure would make supply more resilient against global price shocks, exacerbated and more frequent due to an increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change.

There were nine billion-dollar disasters in the first six months of 2022. The costs incurred from disasters over the past five years is more than $788 billion, which exceeds more than a third of the disaster costs of the past 43 years, according to a report from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.

As another hurricane barrels towards North Carolina, Yellen referenced the devastating toll of Hurricane Florence, including 22 deaths, $24 billion in damage, and power outages for 1 million North Carolinians.

“Climate change poses a grave risk to the productive capacity of our economy while also impacting its stability,” Yellen said. “To tackle these risks, we need to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks to a crowd in Chapel Hill about clean energy investments

Before her speech, Yellen toured the Cypress Creek Renewables control center in Durham. The utility-scale clean energy company develops and operates solar and battery storage across 17 states, including 245 solar sites in North Carolina.

CEO Sarah Slusser says the federal investment and manufacturing incentives over the next decade will spur growth in the private sector, translating to more jobs in North Carolina. “The number of jobs across the country will more than double because of this Inflation Reduction Act and the innovation will help to keep the cost of delivery for electricity low, putting money in the pocket of every citizen in the country,” she said.

The state GOP spoke out against her visit and Biden's economic policies, citing inflation. "How ironic for Janet Yellen to come to North Carolina to talk about the problems she and the rest of the Biden administration created," RNC spokesperson Taylor Mazock said.

Yellen ended out her trip with a roundtable in Durham, to meet with local organizations that received support from the American Rescue Plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Liz McLaughlin, Reporter
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