The ‘green’ energy industry is alive, in large part, because taxpayers are subsidizing energy sources that aren’t viable in the free marketplace. Purging public budgets of these subsidies is an incredibly difficult task, as we found out here in North Carolina. During the legislative session that just adjourned, Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County tried to get agreement to scale back our state’s onerous and costly ‘renewables’ mandate. Thanks to the misguided S.B. 3, passed a few years ago, utility companies mist purchase a percentage of their energy from high-cost ‘green’ sources rather than lower-cost traditional sources. The higher costs, of course, translate into higher electricity costs. Hager’s valiant effort was defeated — in part by his fellow Republicans. Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reported on this in May.
Hager said he was surprised to see how deeply entrenched “green” corporate welfare has become in North Carolina, which also played a role in his failed attempt to usher H.B. 298, the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act, through the committee process.
But he believes the attention the disputed bill received raised awareness among GOP colleagues that there is no end in sight to the expensive, tax-fueled subsidies allowing a handful of companies to enrich themselves. That spotlight helped in beating back several other renewable bills that were bad for the taxpayer, he said.
Hager hopes to continue fighting for the conservative ideal of ending the state’s renewable energy subsidies and renewable energy purchase mandates by resurrecting the issues as part of a far-reaching study.
Now the Washington Post is writing about the energy subsidy gravy train and the constituencies they create.
But another theory is that these laws have created their own constituencies, making them harder to repeal. Once a state starts bolstering wind and solar power, that jump-starts various industries — from turbine manufacturers to solar installers. Texas, for instance, now has more people working in the solar industry than it has ranchers.
For more on the energy subsidy gravy train, read this column from JLF’s Roy Cordato.