Library filed under Energy Policy from North Carolina
The big news yesterday was that Republicans included no version of an extension of North Carolina’s 35% renewable energy tax credit in the budget compromise worked out by the Senate and House leadership. It will end, effectively, Dec. 31. But with the budget document finally available after months of delay, it seems clear that the leadership has dropped plans to freeze the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard.
Had Iberdrola been forced to go through the state permitting process, there would be multiple required site visits, public hearings and ongoing reporting, as well as requirements relating to decommissioning the turbines. DENR would also have responsibilities to do an annual review of military presence in the area as well as other record-keeping.
House Bill 332, which has passed in the North Carolina House, would freeze North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. This standard, enacted in 2007, requires utility companies like Duke Energy to sell more renewable energy each year. The act has a goal of 12.5 percent by 2021 but will remain at six percent if the bill is passed.
An ambiguous voice vote Wednesday sent to the full Senate a measure that would freeze North Carolina's green-energy standard, which has helped make the state a national leader in solar energy. The measure pushed by House Majority Leader Mike Hager and others has cleared the state House.
The group Americans for Prosperity revealed it is operating a social media initiative, including an online petition, and a phone-banking operation aimed at encouraging state lawmakers to repeal a law that mandates the investor-owned utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.
North Carolina consumers would have saved $4.2 billion since 2007 if mandates on electric power utilities to purchase expensive renewable energy had not driven costs well above the U.S. average, said a nationally recognized energy and environmental policy analyst.
The legislation sets parameters for permit applications that include public hearings so opponents can raise concerns. State regulators could deny an application if a project could adversely affect the environment, private landowners or military operations.
"This misguided policy acts much like a hidden tax. Experience has shown that renewable energy mandates, like the one on the books in North Carolina, have a negative impact on the economy and an adverse impact on your constituents' pocketbooks."
A handful of House Republicans dealt a stunning blow to state Rep. Mike Hager's bill to phase out slowly North Carolina's subsidies, tax credits, and purchase mandates propping up renewable energy companies. Despite this setback, the Rutherford County Republican said he plans to bring House Bill 298 to another committee vote.
"What this bill does is try to soft land this business and to be competitive you need to move from government subsidy you need to move off the taxpayer rolls. I see this as an entitlement programme that is beginning to get its roots into our state. I see it as a regressive type tax." Hager's bill is part of a nationwide campaign to repeal state-based renewable portfolio standards.
A House panel on Wednesday narrowly approved an effort to scale back and ultimately repeal a 2007 law requiring North Carolina electric utilities to generate a percentage of their power through alternative sources and locate energy savings. The House commerce subcommittee voted 11-10 in favor of the bill that would cap renewable energy and efficiency requirements by power companies, electric cooperatives and city-owned electric utilities at roughly half the level the law ultimately demands.
A House subcommittee narrowly passed a bill Wednesday that chips away at a 2007 law that aimed to increase conservation efforts and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, one of the bill's sponsors, said the intent is to stop the burden of renewable energy subsidies and mandates on ratepayers.
North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, passed in 2007, is 12.5% by 2021 for investor-owned utilities and 10% by 2018 for electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. The authors of the bill, dubbed the "Affordable and Reliable Energy Act," say the state's RPS is raising energy costs for North Carolina consumers.
Republicans hope to roll back the state's green energy policy. It's part of a broader effort to reshape the state's energy landscape to reflect conservative priorities. It will likely dovetail with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign endorsement of offshore drilling and inland fracking for shale gas as a means of promoting energy independence.
At least two utility companies have declined deals to buy power from Iberdrola Renewables' proposed large-scale wind farm here, potentially derailing the $600 million project. Both companies - Dominion Power and Progress Energy - say the price of the power was simply too high.
Legislators introduced six bills concerning energy last Tuesday, a tenth of all the energy bills proposed so far this year. Most focused on job creation through the energy sector instead of environmental regulation as they had under the Democratic majority.
Now a legislative proposal introduced Wednesday would scrap the 2007 energy law, known as Senate Bill 3. Republican state Rep. George Cleveland's bill calls for the immediate repeal of the bill, which requires power companies to meet 12.5 percent of customer electricity demand through renewables and conservation by 2021.
Lawmakers need to clarify the law, while not completely shutting the door on all wind power in the mountains. Wind turbines, particularly for private homes or small operations, could help reduce the need for coal-fired electric plants down the road. Wind won't replace oil or natural gas anytime soon, but like solar power and other alternative energy sources, we need to explore all avenues.
Legislators declined this summer to clear the way for North Carolina to tap the power of mountain winds. Next year, they could decide whether to allow a single, experimental ridgetop wind farm. Rep. Phil Frye said at a Wednesday wind-energy forum that he plans to propose allowing the state to issue one permit for building rows of wind turbines on a ridge - which he hopes would happen at a site overlooking his hometown of Spruce Pine.
Governor Beverly Perdue, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, and Representative Tim Spear hosted the meeting at Cape Hatteras Secondary School. "If water levels are rising as predicted and we take no action, we will have made a terrible mistake for the people who come after us," Basnight said in opening remarks to a crowd of more than 250 people assembled in the school auditorium.