North Carolina’s renewable energy industry is safe from legislative threats, for now. Republicans and Democrats in the sponsor’s own committee voted down his bill that would have repealed the state’s clean energy standard. This bill mimicked “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
WRAL NC Capitol reports:
[Bill sponsor] Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, had pulled House Bill 298 from the House Committee on Environment, where it faced questionable support, to put it in front of the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy, which he chairs, in hopes of keeping the legislation moving forward.
Instead, an 18–13 vote killed the bill, with powerful Republican Reps. Tim Moore, Ruth Samuelson, Nelson Dollar and others joining Democrats in opposing the measure.
Rep. Hager used to work for Duke Energy, and is a member of ALEC, a right-wing state legislation factory that has received funding from the Koch brothers and the Heartland Institute. The Kochs also donated to the John Locke Foundation, founded by Art Pope. Pope, not a fan of renewable energy, was very active in the 2010 state elections, spending $2.2 million to elect a Tea Party-fueled GOP takeover of the state legislature.
Passed in 2007 with bipartisan support, the state’s renewable energy standard required utilities to use increasing amounts of renewable energy. The clean energy industry has since created thousands of North Carolina jobs and pumped billions into the economy. North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to achieve a renewable energy standard. It is not just solar panel and wind turbines that support the bill. Prestige Farms is a turkey and pork processor, and opposed Hager’s bill because it would jeopardize the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in eastern North Carolina.
Hager’s own committee did reject his bill 18–13, yet the bill is technically still alive. Hager could try to make changes to the bill to revive it, though those changes would have to be significant.
Below the fold is an infographic on the renewable energy industry in North Carolina, which explains why the RES is so important:
The Charlotte News & Observer reports on why key Republicans voted to repeal Hager’s bill: “Those who voted against it said the program had added jobs in their districts and recruited businesses to the state during a severe economic downturn. Since its adoption in 2007, the state’s renewables policy has turned North Carolina in the nation’s fifth-largest developer of solar energy. ‘It was based off local issues back home,’ said Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who also chairs the powerful House Rules Committee. ‘I would have had a difficult time talking to a CEO who just brought 300 jobs to Cleveland County that I’m going to vote to eliminate this program that justified their investment.’”