ALEC-Sponsored Bill To Repeal North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standard Narrowly Passes Out Of Committee

Yesterday, the North Carolina House Commerce Committee narrowly passed a bill that would repeal the state’s successful renewable energy standard. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Renewable Energy Standard’s (RES) to encourage electric utilities to expand the power they generate from renewable sources such as solar and wind.

In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to adopt such a standard — Senate Bill 3 passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and requires state utilities to supply 12.5 percent of renewable energy by 2021. Since then, clean energy companies have generated billions in revenue and have created thousands of in-state jobs — all while reducing pollution and saving ratepayers money.

But now, North Carolina has joined the growing list of states in which organizations like the Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Council, or ALEC, and Koch-backed Grover Norquist have been lobbying against renewable energy policy, and pushing “model legislation” to undo these standards. House Bill 298, called the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act,” was introduced by known ALEC member Representative Mike Hager, and aims to fully repeal the energy standard.

The nearly two-hourly long committee hearing concluded with an 11-10 vote on the RES repeal, barely escaping committee with two key Republicans voting against it. The Raleigh News and Observer reported that Representative Ruth Samuelson, a Republican from Charlotte who is the Republican conference leader, said the bill went too far. Samuelson said the law has helped develop an alternative energy industry that has benefited rural communities — and she is absolutely right.

North Carolina now has over 1,100 clean energy companies that have contributed $3.7 billion in annual gross revenue. This clean energy development has led to a net gain in employment of 21,162 jobs in just five years. Moreover, the renewable energy standard has lowered residential bills and these savings will more than double within a decade, with expected savings of up to $173 million to ratepayers. The RES standard also catapulted North Carolina to fifth in the nation in solar energy development and the state is expected to move to fourth place this year. “It’s an extraordinary success story that there’s an industry that hardly existed several years ago,” said Michael Shore, CEO of FLS Energy in Asheville.

Despite its success, this law has been the target of conservatives since it was adopted.

Legislation was also introduced in 2011, but got no traction in part due to the state’s largest utilities protesting its repeal. Thousands of dollars have been spent by conservative organizations across the state to dismantle the program, with efforts being led and coordinated by Koch fueled groups. Indeed, the Koch brothers have donated $150,000 and $25,000 to ALEC and the Heartland Institute respectively, the organizations responsible for creating the model legislation. The Koch brothers have also donated to the John Locke Foundation, one of the state’s most outspoken climate science denial groups. The John Locke Foundation was created by Art Pope, a discount mogul and conservative benefactor that was once a national director of Americans for Prosperity, the tea party group founded and funded by the Koch brothers. Pope was also key to fueling the Republican Party historic takeover of the state legislature in 2010, spending over $2.2 million targeting two dozen key state races. His organization released a report attacking the RES with false claims that it would increase the cost to consumers and cost the state jobs.

Grover Norquist has also joined in on the conservative battle, who wrote an op-ed attacking renewable standards in which he cites the report released by the John Locke Foundation as a basis for repeal. He recently was seen in Topeka, Kansas trying to convince state legislators to weaken their own renewable energy standard through SB 82 and HB 2241. However, the Republican controlled House and Senate responded by rejecting the bills. This occurred after thousands of people signed online petitions, and organizations like the Kansas Farm Bureau wrote op-eds supporting the state standard.

Today, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, responded to Norquist with an op-ed of his own. McGinn writes,

So as a nationwide initiative funded by opponents of renewable energy targets state Renewable Portfolio Standards, Americans should be asking themselves, with all the benefits that came with doubling our renewable energy capacity from 43.5 gigawatt to 85.7GW from 2008 to 2012, “Do we want more renewable energy or less?”

Kansas policymakers showed their support for the state’s renewable energy standard – it’s time for North Carolina legislators to do the same.

Tiffany Germain is the ThinkProgress War Room Senior Climate/Energy Researcher. Matt Kasper is a Special Assistant for the Energy Policy team at the Center for American Progress.

14 Responses to ALEC-Sponsored Bill To Repeal North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standard Narrowly Passes Out Of Committee

  1. Josh says:

    Let’s be honest, we destroyed the garden; now we should pay. Global warming should wipe humanity out of existence.

  2. Andrew DeWit says:

    That’s a lot of innocent, beautiful children to sacrifice to the inertia helped by cynicism. Besides, the US military is clearly on-side with this push for sustainability. Let’s encourage them. Their efforts can help to foster resilience and, in the bargain, buy a lot of soft power. The Chinese, who are already a major force in UN peacekeeping, might see a new avenue to getting the respect they crave.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Poor old John Locke. To think that such scuttling homunculi have had the gall to use his name to spread their vile idiocies.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    In fact this is the opportunity humanity needs to extirpate the evil within it, and undergo a moral rebirth, and become as good as we can be, rather than as vile, greedy, violent, hate-filled and unscrupulous as the very worst amongst are determined that we shall be.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    What’s that then? ‘Sustainable Full Spectrum Dominance’ or perhaps ‘Sustainable Shock and Awe’? How about not first reflexively thinking in militaristic terms (the US military is one of the greatest polluters on the planet, even when it is not bombing Islamic countries ‘Back to the Stone Age’)and, instead, reducing your spending on death and destruction by 50% (at least) freeing up over 500 billion per year for ecological repair?

  6. M Tucker says:

    “…this law has been the target of conservatives since it was adopted.”

    So, from the beginning the radical faction of the Republican Party, characterized by morons and ignoramuses, was there in the state. Way back in 2007. They have now taken over and despite the obvious enormous economic advantage of the law that generated “…1,100 clean energy companies that have contributed $3.7 billion in annual gross revenue. This clean energy development has led to a net gain in employment of 21,162 jobs in just five years. Moreover, the renewable energy standard has lowered residential bills and these savings will more than double within a decade, with expected savings of up to $173 million to ratepayers.” these morons want to end it. This is proof the NEW REPUBLICANS ARE NOT the party of fiscal responsibility. They are the party of stupid.

  7. Lowell says:

    North Carolina is trying to out south South Carolina. Perhaps there’s been a take over from the south that we haven’t seen.

  8. DRT says:

    Yes, the same fine individuals who wanted to outlaw sea level rise.

  9. BillD says:

    I think that it’s good news that this bill barely makes it out of committee in a southern, although not “deep south” state. I am really hoping that the stupid GOP policies will hurt them in the next election. They seem to understand about immigration. If we only had more discussion about climate in Washington and on the news, the GOP would get hammered for their criminal views on climate

  10. Anne says:

    Todd Wynn of ALEC has a Facebook Page – – He posts all kinds of crap on it, pure bunk – he makes lame attempts to sound intellectual, analytic, fact-based, when he is just a blow-hard who misinterprets good studies and promotes phony studies in order to conduct a smear campaign against renewable energy. ALEC’s funders are fossil-fuel-supporters and use ALEC as a smoke screen to try and descredit the state-based renewable energy portfolio standards. For sport, I would often comment on Todd Wynn’s ridiculous statements and call him out, encourage him to disclose his funder and his true job description — after some time of this he “banned me” from his Facebook Page. Maybe some CP readers want to take over for me? More seriuosly — ALEC and Wynn are somewhat of a threat in that people unschooled and gullible and in policymaking positions in the states could start to believe some the horse poop that comes out of Todd Wynn’s mouth. Important to get word out that ALEC is just a tool for the Koch brothers, and nothing more. Oh and if you interact with Todd Wynn, tell him Anne says “I’m watching you….”

  11. Todd Wynn says:

    Thanks Anne for the comment. Always a pleasure. Thanks for the shout out for my page. Helps me share truth and facts on energy policy debates happening around the country.

    Glad you are “watching me”!

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Anne, if you wrestle with pigs, you end up covered in shite. Creatures like this have a constituency of like ‘minds’ who enjoy seeing their Great Leader dealing with the hated….(fill in any of a huge number of hated out-groups, comprising, in the end, the vast bulk of humanity). They are like sci-fi monsters who feed off attention and grow ever larger and more hideous the more you acknowledge their existence.

  13. Bill says:

    This is an interesting article, but it doesn’t explain why the Republican right wants to jettison certain energy sectors. I would assume Koch brothers would work to undermine these sectors – I understand they are heavily invested in the tar oil and they seem to be intolerant of competition. This is probably a more nuanced story than one can tell from the article as regards NC politics.

  14. Daniel says:

    Another thinly-veiled attack on democracy by the Koch brothers.

    WHY would we want to REDUCE our commitment to clean energy?

    Oil, gas, and coal are FINITE resources (no matter what you argue; they will run out one day)

    Why, you ask? So the oil +fossil companies can sell the last bits of energy left in the ground, at MAXIMUM PROFIT.. instead of alternatives being developed via the laws of supply and demand.

    This is about artificially keeping the price of fossil fuels high. These people are going to drive us off an “energy cliff”, with destabilization of society, if alternatives are not developed.