Governing magazine reports here on the fight in several states — including North Carolina — to repeal costly renewable energy mandates that have cost consumers billions in added electricity costs.
A joint study by the conservative think tanks the Beacon Hill Institute and the John Locke Foundation estimates that RPS will cost North Carolina electricity consumers $1.845 billion between 2008 and 2021. The report also challenged what it characterized as bloated job creation claims by pro-RPS forces. Such arguments—and eye-popping numbers—however, weren’t enough to win over key House and Senate Republicans last session. They joined with Democrats to kill a bill sponsored by ALEC member and former Duke Energy employee, Rep. Mike Hager.
Hager blames the foundering of his Electricity Freedom Act on powerful political interests including poultry and pork farms, which are specifically designated as renewable energy producers in the North Carolina RPS law. “[They] don’t want to end the gravy train,” Hager was quoted as saying after the bill was bottled up in the House.
The rebuke in North Carolina—along with the sweep in the 19 other states by pro-RPS forces last year—seems to have taken the wind out of the sails of those seeking to stall, roll back or repeal renewable portfolio standards. This year only a handful of states are seeing continued action on RPS, but one of those is Kansas. There, anti-RPS forces are going the grassroots route, blanketing the airwaves with ads pounding RPS as anti-consumer and anti-economic development.
Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports here on the fight to free consumers from these higher electric bills.
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.
James Taylor, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of the monthly publication Environment & Climate News, added that the limited potential for a North Carolina commercial wind and solar industry does not justify the exorbitant costs of renewable subsidies.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that electricity prices have risen 10.8 percent nationally since 2007, but 17.8 percent in North Carolina over the same time period, or 65 percent faster, Taylor said. Taylor made his presentation March 29 presentation in Raleigh at the Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference.
“North Carolinians are paying the price. We can measure this in our pocketbooks,” Taylor said.
Even with the higher costs, there seems to be little appetite in the General Assembly to roll back the 2007 law, known commonly as Senate Bill 3, which set the mandates in place.
State Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, who was on the panel with Taylor, noted that in 2007, “my first year in the House, I voted against the renewable bill, and in the last session I was one of the co-sponsors for repeal” of the mandates under House Bill 298.
The fight continues.