As you know, the solar industry’s business model is admittedly built on capturing public subsidies.

Today, North Carolina’s crony emeritus writes in The News & Observer on the “business case” for having the state force taxpayers/ratepayers to keep boosting solar energy even though it still cannot make it on its own merits.

I’m speaking, of course, about Jim Rogers, former CEO of Duke Energy. You remember Jim Rogers, “the CEO Who Wouldn’t Leave“:

On July 2, at 4:02 p.m., just after the market closed, Duke Energy’s (DUK) board of directors gave final approval for the acquisition of Progress Energy, its cross-state rival. Progress’s CEO, the 6-foot-5 William Johnson, a defensive lineman in his Penn State days, was supposed to become chief executive of the combined company. Under the merger terms, Rogers was scheduled to assume the role of executive chairman, a step toward retirement.

At 4:30 p.m. the Duke board elected Johnson CEO. Then, after Johnson left to celebrate, the board took another vote and ousted him. He served as chief executive for two hours, give or take a few minutes. The Duke board awarded him an exit package of $45 million in deferred compensation, severance, and other benefits. To finish an eventful afternoon, the Duke board reinstalled Rogers in the top job.

Those caught unaware by Johnson’s stealth firing included investors, utility regulators, and some 29,000 employees of the combined company.

You remember Jim Rogers, who was at the center of what many Wall Street observers termed the “most blatant example of corporate deceit” they had personally ever witnessed.

You may even remember Jim Rogers’ explanation of leadership, in his appearance in a John Hood article about corruption and a leadership crisis in North Carolina:

“Storytelling,” Rogers explained, is a big part of the job of running Duke. “Life is about making stuff up as you go,” he said. “You’re constantly taking a story line, changing the narrative, looking at it from all different perspectives.”

Rogers put that storytelling to good use today. I particularly enjoy his use of the term “special interests” being those opposed to special tax credits and purchase mandates for a particular industry. No, Mr. Rogers, you are representing the special interests here.

Furthermore, in keeping with seemingly every other pro-solar article written in this state, Rogers faithfully reproduced the narrative of the Amazing Energy Colossus That Is One Lost State Dollar Away from Certain Death.

  • “…solar is as good for the economy as it is for the environment, making us more energy independent and competitive. In fact, North Carolina has a first-mover advantage to compete and win as a global hub of the solar industry. Last year, we ranked No. 2 in the nation for installed solar capacity.”
  • “…tens of billions of dollars of investment in the U.S., with solar comprising nearly a third of all new energy infrastructure investment last year and generating more than 1 percent of all new jobs created nationally.”
  • “Solar is proving it is an increasingly economically viable competitor to conventional energy sources. It also generates far more economic value over its lifetime than the subsidies it receives.”

Hm — it does? So why does the state need to subsidize and force people to buy this, again? Oh, because taking away solar’s tax credits and changing the renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS) mandate would “change the rules about renewable energy in the middle of the game.”

The game. That’s interesting terminology for a critical household necessity. But this lobby treats it like a game — and one it can play only if the rules are tilted forever in its favor.