Stanford research on utility companies' growing opposition to Solar power

The future of our planet literally hangs in the balance:

As installed solar prices fell in the period after 2009, the utility industry maintained the view that these small installations posed no threat to their businesses. Then, the industry made an abrupt about face with the publication of an important briefing paper in 2013. In January of that year, the Edison Electric Institute, the industry association for investor owned electric utilities released a briefing paper entitled “Disruptive Challenges” that focused on the key economic challenges facing the retail electricity sector. In it, a dark future for the industry was outlined: how flat electricity sales, the rapidly falling cost of distributed solar power, and rising rates necessary to replace existing grid infrastructure create a unique set of challenges for the power sector.

The paper was all the more unusual because it was released for public consumption. Most EEI publications are released only to member utilities for internal consumption.

And the likely reason it was released for public consumption was to (more easily) provide talking points for all the other industry-related "think tanks" and right-wing nutters opposed to both renewable energy and climate change science. We're in the middle of this crisis right now, folks, and it's important to understand this is a national battle and not just more Duke Energy shenanigans. And this is especially relevant for many of my environmentalist friends who were eager to make compromises to get the recent energy bill passed, that included more freedom for Duke Energy to "negotiate" rates they pay to Solar farms. It's a long one, so try to stay with me:

Duke Energy to Josh Stein: You don't need to see those documents

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The sheer arrogance of the all-powerful utility is astounding:

“It’s real easy to give money away when it’s not your money,” Clark said, referring to Duke representative David McNeill’s prior comments about the company’s spending on local charities. “If you’re gonna make the money, then suck it up and solve that problem.” The problem Clark is referencing to is what’s been done with past coal ash spills in the state. According to the Associated Press, Duke Energy wants an extra $477 million a year, with an 11 percent return on a measure commonly described as potential profit margin.

The schedule, which included the Richmond County meeting along with ones in Raleigh, Asheville, Snow Hill and Wilmington, was released the same day that Duke Energy said it doesn’t want to turn over documents about its coal ash management requested by Attorney General Josh Stein, who is monitoring the company’s rate request.

There could be any number of reasons why Duke Energy doesn't want legal scrutiny of those documents, from inflation of the actual costs in order to line their pockets or other activities that may fall afoul of state statutes. But there can't be any "good" reasons for them to withhold these documents, and their lame efforts at public relations are not improving their position:

Thursday News: Head in the sand

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COASTAL REAL ESTATE BROKERS CONTINUE TO FIGHT SEA LEVEL RISE WARNINGS: All along the coast of the southeast United States, the real estate industry confronts a hurricane. Not the kind that swirls in the Atlantic, but a storm of scientific information about sea-level rise that threatens the most lucrative, commission-boosting properties. These studies warn that Florida, the Carolinas and other southeastern states face the nation’s fastest-growing rates of sea level rise and coastal erosion — as much as 3 feet by the year 2100, depending on how quickly Antarctic ice sheets melt. “This is very concerning,” said Willo Kelly, who represents both the Outer Banks Home Builders Association and the Outer Banks Association of Realtors and led a six-year battle against state sea-level-rise mapping in North Carolina. “There’s a fear that some think tank is going to come in here and tell us what to do.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article173114701.html

NC's uninsured rate drops substantially thanks to ACA

And no thanks to the Obama-hating GOP:

North Carolina experienced another drop in the number of individuals without health insurance to a record low of 10.4 percent in 2016, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Since the federal Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014, the share of people without insurance in North Carolina has dropped from 15.6 percent.

However, the rate could be significantly lower if the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 of the 1.04 million North Carolinians who still lack health insurance.

That 5% is huge, close to a half-million people. People who are much less likely now to be forced to either ignore health problems or be plunged into financially-crippling medical debt. I've mentioned this before, but several years ago, when I first left the Army, I managed a discount furniture store North of Durham. We used a couple of finance companies to help people borrow money for new furniture, but at least half of those who applied were turned down because of unpaid medical bills. I'm talking some 40-50 families every week, whose credit was so bad even high interest loans were off the table. Medical debt doesn't just impact the bottom 20%, it threatens the entire middle class. But people like this guy just don't care:

Wednesday News: New Queen in Queen City

VI LYLES DEFEATS JENNIFER ROBERTS IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR CHARLOTTE MAYOR: Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles Tuesday won the Democratic mayoral nomination by upsetting Mayor Jennifer Roberts – a polarizing leader who made national headlines over House Bill 2. Lyles, a former city budget director and assistant city manager, won in virtually every corner of the city, from the northwest to the southeast. She carried African-American precincts off Beatties Ford Road as well as those in Myers Park and Dilworth. She faces Republican Kenny Smith in November. State Sen. Joel Ford was a distant third, followed by Lucille Puckett and Constance Partee Johnson. Turnout was about 8 percent.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article172992241.html

NC Voter Information Sent To Trump's Phoney Baloney Fraud Commission

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article17...

The only good news is that the SBOE is providing the commission only with the URL to the SBOE website, from where the already publicly available statewide and county-wide voter information files can be downloaded on demand (the files are updated nightly). In other words, Kobach won't see anything we can't already see.

The bad news is that (1) although your birth date is not made public, your birth city, current age and birth year are. Your gender, race and ethnicity are also made public, if provided on your original voter registration application (there's no way to expunge those data once your registration application is processed). (2) The accompanying voter history files provide a list of elections in which we each participated. For any other than Unaffiliated voters, our party affiliation at the time of each election is stored in our history records. For Unaffiliated voters, the party ballot selected for primary elections is recorded. State law prohibits the disclosure of HOW we voted in each election, BUT, the party affiliation recorded in our history files can be easily misconstrued and/or abused by overzealous Kobach committee members to fraudulently skew the data in their favor.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Requests/QA_Election_Integrity_Commission_Request.pdf

Tuesday News: Fighting disaster with more disaster

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REPUBLICAN HURRICANE RELIEF WILL LIKELY CUT INTO OTHER PROGRAMS: Repairing the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey could cost hundreds of billions of dollars at a time when Republicans in Congress are reluctant to spend much on anything, particularly without a way to pay for it. It could make passing disaster relief funding in the future a politically toxic exercise, even in the era of unified GOP government. Lawmakers last week sent legislation to the president’s desk providing more than $15 billion in storm relief funds, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency said should be sufficient to provide disaster relief for at least a few months. The measure may postpone the next debate over how much Congress should spend, but it doesn’t remove the possibility of a bitter political battle, with the administration expected to ask for as many as four emergency funding requests. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘We’re running out of money so we’ll fill up the coffers,’ and coming back to the appropriations process later” to find offsets, Sanford explained. “It doesn’t have to be perfectly timed.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article172712986.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If you live in Charlotte and forgot to early vote in the Primary, today is the day:

It will be interesting to see the overall turnout numbers for this Primary, which will (very likely) determine who the next Mayor of Charlotte is. And I'd like to give a special shout out to Betsy's mom Patsy Kinsey, who has two Primary challengers to face off to keep her seat. Fingers crossed...

Municipal segregation: African-American community sues for the right to vote

They've been knocking at the door for decades, but nobody answers:

A predominantly black unincorporated community is suing an adjacent North Carolina town after a decades-long fight for annexation. The Winston-Salem Journal reports the 73-household Walnut Tree Community Association and four individuals filed a lawsuit Thursday against the predominantly white town of Walnut Cove, alleging racial discrimination.

K&L Gates Law Firm, which represents the plaintiffs, says the lawsuit is an attempt to accelerate annexation so Walnut Tree community members can participate in town elections and receive the benefits and services available to town residents, including reduced water-sewer service rates. The town rejected a formal petition for annexation in January. K&L Gates says repeated denials of annexation since the 1970s violate the North Carolina Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

There is so much wrong with this situation I don't know where to start. The community was originally formed with Federal loan assistance, designed to help more African-Americans become homeowners. And most of them originally lived in Town, meaning they had the right to vote in municipal elections before they bought their new house. They didn't intentionally give up the right to vote to secure a home loan, they were under the impression their new community would become part of the Town:

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