On corporate entanglements and media bias

Something about this story caught my eye. See if you can figure it out.

Capitol Broadcasting Corp. plans to open the dam at the Rocky Mount Mills on Tuesday in order to inspect the turbines and the dam.

It is anticipated that the work will take about two days. During that time, residents will likely notice significantly lower water levels along the Tar River upstream of the dam. A temporary surge of water also is expected downstream of the dam once the gates are opened.

Answer below the fold.

That's right, a media corporation is operating a hydroelectric dam, which means they're not only engaged in the energy-generating process, they're also in control of a local water resource.

Being an advocate of renewable energy, my initial reaction is to dismiss the negative aspects of a corporation so wildly diverse, and maybe even wave their flag a little bit. But my desire to see more projects like this:

The dramatic investment by Capitol Broadcasting and other companies in the state is being spurred, in part, by federal and state tax credits for installing renewable-energy systems, selling clean energy back into the electric grid and an open auction system through the buying and selling of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, known as SRECs.

North Carolina, for instance, offers a corporate tax credit of 35 percent, up to $2.5 million per installation, for all solar, wind, hydro and other clean energy technologies. Plus, the cost of solar panels, including installation, has fallen from about $9 a watt to $3 a watt this year.

Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol Broadcasting, says his company, which was founded by his great-grandfather, has not yet made any financial commitment to expand its solar farm in Garner, but he concedes that the company is looking at several options including installation of more ground-mounted solar panels in multiple phases.

“We’re seeing what the opportunity is more so than anything else,” Goodmon says. “But, solar is a logical use for that land around the towers. It’s a great use for that property.”

Is tempered by realities like this:

Capitol Broadcasting sells all of the electricity generated by its solar farm to Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, but Goodmon wouldn’t disclose how much money the company has made on the project so far or how much the project has generated in federal and state tax credits.

Which leads me to the inevitable question: with so much money involved, especially considering how media companies have struggled to stay in the black in recent years, how can we expect the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation to "leave no stone unturned" in its investigations of Duke Energy?


Wondering what...

...Capitol Broadcasting's position is regarding the effort to do away with the movement in The NCGA do do away with REPS and subsidies for renewable energy?

I would imagine somebody

from the corporation (or representing said) has already been lobbying to keep the REPS and tax credits in place. And I hope they're successful...

Excellent points

I wonder if that's what I was working on when I did some work at their tower site a year or two back.

As for investigating Duke Energy, as I understand it (and I could easily be wrong here), companies like Duke/Progress are required to buy back excess power generation from anyone connected to the grid, regardless of any other relationship, adversarial or otherwise. One of the things the ALEC agenda is pushing for this year is legislation to allow Duke to get away with paying only half of what it charges for residential power. Never mind the fact that it wasn't their investment that generated those kilowatts.

I know it won't happen, but I still say the best outcome would for Duke to be broken up into more manageable pieces and some of those pieces taken over by the public sector. At least then when the next spill happens we all won't feel so screwed when we all end up paying for the cleanup.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Not sure about the requirement

that Duke purchase any or all renewable power attached to the grid. The REPS only mandates 12.5%, and it doesn't dictate where that should come from. They (Duke) can even purchase credits from out-of-state generators.

You probably couldn't get attached to the grid without Duke Energy's assistance/cooperation, and you probably couldn't get NCUC permit approval without an outlet for said energy to go. But that doesn't mean (imo) that Duke can't stop buying your power, or that they must continue to pay a premium for it.

All that said, you may be right. Duke might not be able to exert that much influence over CBC. But as I mentioned to my son a little while ago, that doesn't mean the media company won't try to avoid risking any hard feelings, and the loss of dollars that could represent.

Guess I'm not as up on this as I thought I was

But I did find this, which is what I thought was already law pretty much everywhere (I was wrong).

In 2009, the Utilities Commission of North Carolina required Progress Energy, Duke Energy, and Dominion Power to provide net metering of solar energy systems. This provided a retail credit on a bi-directional meters from the incoming sources of solar power generated. For example, if the homeowner is not home to consume the energy being produced from the solar system the new meter installed will spin backwards equalling an energy credit rate at the time of production. Municipalities and Co-ops pay a higher cost for energy from larger utilities and produce little of their own, net metering would offer a higher savings based on a higher rate of retail credit offset. Net metering also establishes a guaranteed ROI because it offsets your own utility bill and consumption.

Solar energy is a highly visible form of renewable energy that will offer an ever present reminder for us all to sustain. To encourage the maximum number of solar energy systems installed we have to provide the most advantageous regulations for renewables. NC GreenPower has a maximum system size of 5 kW for a dual meter sellback of the energy produce from a solar array. This 5kW maximum is typically not a desired offset for larger homes. The money generated from the sell of the energy produced to NC GreenPower is taxed to the producer as revenue. In comparison, net metered solar systems offer no size maximum and are tax free as utility savings. Net metered systems utility savings (solar production credit) also rise in the same increment as your utility rate.

I have tried to outline various social and financial reasons why net metering should be allowed all across North Carolina. In our society there are very few options for reducing common monthly bills and adding other societal benefits with the exception of utilities. Renewable energy provides the perfect route to fix your energy costs for the future. With 65% in tax credits and solar energy system price points at the lowest ever net metering regulation is much overdue. The General Assembly in North Carolina controls the net metering laws and regulations of North Carolina citizens outside of Progress, Duke, and Dominion Power districts.

I think the confusion on my part came from another article I saw a few weeks back, about how ALEC was targeting residential solar this year, and part of their initiative involved changing net-metering laws so that utility providers would no longer have to pay or credit residential renewable energy producers the same rate they charge their own customers per kWh. In short, the change ALEC was said to be pursuing would reduce the credit by about 50%, thus allowing the power company to effectively glean electricity from individuals for half the price they would be able to resell it back to their customers, while avoiding the cost of installation and maintenance borne by individuals willing to invest in solar energy on their own.

Sounded like a pretty sweet deal for the likes of Duke Energy and it's stockholders, but not so much for the rest of us.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Thanks for this education

Really good update. Sounds like they are out to screw us all over again.
Duke uber alles.