State Representative Mike Hager’s mission to repeal North Carolina’s successful renewable energy standard just won’t end. Two repeal bills, HB 298 and SB 365, failed to pass either chamber by a May 16th legislative deadline, even though the Senate bill passed the Senate Finance Committee in a controversial manner: without a vote count. The two bills met resistance from not only State Senate and House Republicans, but also by a coalition made up of farmers, renewable energy companies, and rural economic development advocates.
Rep. Hager is driving the repeal efforts, along with radical conservative organizations like ALEC, Heartland Institute, the Koch Brothers, Art Pope, the American Conservative Union, and Americans for Tax Reform. As a member of ALEC, Hager is now trying to find new ways to repeal the standard. He recently told the Carolina Journal that he is working to have the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Study Commission examine the RES.
“Anything where you have a sector of business being propped up by taxpayers is not an ideal situation,” said Rep. Hager.
However, a poll conducted earlier this year by Fallon Research for the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association found that 89 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of independents, and 76 percent of Republicans want North Carolina leaders to expand the use of renewable energy.
Furthermore, Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers at the company’s annual shareholder meeting said, “We [Duke Energy] still support (the renewables law) because it has the economic provision in it… Personally I support the renewable energy portfolio standard.”
Having the CEO of the largest electricity power holding company in the United States, supplying energy to 7.2 million customers, publicly support the North Carolina RES is a great message any commission should be aware of when dealing with energy policies.
Any commission created to examine the state RES should also note the 1,100 clean energy companies in North Carolina that have contributed $3.7 billion in annual gross revenue, and that clean energy deployment has led to a net gain in employment of over 21,000 jobs in just five years.
Moreover, the RES 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.
As long as ALEC continues their misguided efforts to repeal energy standards, we can expect the state lawmakers who are members of the organization to continue their efforts as well.