NC REPS

The battle to continue NC's renewable energy success

Progress is a four-letter word to some people:

It’s hard to see what’s not to like about North Carolina’s growing renewable energy industry. It’s clean. It creates jobs. It puts idle farm land to profitable use. It’s part of what must be an urgent, global response to climate change.

Yet there are some in the General Assembly determined to halt and even reverse the state’s booming solar power industry and to lower its prospects as a leader in wind power.

Some ideological positions are simply too absurd to understand. Even in the absence of the millions spent by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel astroturfers, there will always be a handful of science-fearing individuals tilting at windmills. The industry propaganda just fuels their delusions, and makes it much more likely they'll be able to do actual damage instead of just fuming about it.

In defense of NC's wildly successful Solar tax credits

It's foolish to even consider stalling this engine:

The Tar Heel state ranked fourth nationally for total solar electric capacity and ninth per capita, according to a new report by the Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. State House lawmakers used the report Thursday as a launch pad to talk about the potential freeze to North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and the hangup in the budget over extending renewable energy tax credits.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat, said clean energy is an “economic success story” for the state. “It’s not time to cut it off,” she said. Nearly 23,000 North Carolinians are employed in the clean energy industry, Harrison added. “These jobs, businesses, investments in new revenues are at stake right now as the House and the Senate debate budget provisions,” she said.

Ten years ago, we used to get excited about a couple of hundred kilowatts of Solar PV being added to the mix, but in 2015 North Carolina will bring online 76 megawatts of Solar power in the 2nd Quarter alone. It's no longer a boutique-level "novelty" for the well-to-do to show off to their friends, it's grown into a baseload-providing system powering hundreds of thousands of homes. It's not on the drawing board, folks. It's a reality. And the last thing we need to do is screw around with the formula.

NC's wildly successful REPS law under attack

And big surprise, Mike Hager is leading the charge:

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, called REPS, was the first in the Southeast when lawmakers adopted it in 2007. The law says utilities have to generate increasing amounts of energy from the sun, wind and organic wastes, or from energy efficiency. It set an ultimate green-energy target of 12.5 percent of retail sales by 2021.

A bill sponsored by two chairs of the House Public Utilities committee and Majority Leader Mike Hager cuts that target by half. It makes the final target 6 percent, this year’s benchmark, and ends the mandate in 2018.

Most of you are probably aware of what our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is and what it does, but for those who aren't, I talked about this on our radio program five years ago (about the 18 minute mark). The program was already working well back then, but I wouldn't have dreamed it could be where it is today. In a time when most government programs fall well short of their original goals, to tear down one of the few that actually works the way it's supposed to is just plain stupid. And so is smothering this kind of needed rural revenue:

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