The John Locke Foundation has opposed North Carolina’s renewable energy standards mandate since it first passed into law as Senate Bill 3 under liberal leadership in 2007.  The imposition of this flawed regulation and unwarranted mandate, it turns out, has no environmental benefits, drives up the cost of energy (which drives up the cost of everything killing jobs and opportunities on its way), is anti-free market and feeds into special interest, tax carveouts for a select group of stakeholders, at the expense of all other hard working North Carolina taxpayers. The solar industry is as dependant on handouts as it ever has been with no end in sight. The Beacon Hill Institute reports on the real and substantial costs of the mandate and other reports indicate the costs are substantial.

House Bill 681 would fix all of these problems. It would phase out, cap, sunset and repeal the renewable energy standards, ensure low cost reliable energy and further develop North Carolina’s economic recovery. It holds harmless any current contracts and investments.  This is a good idea and it is time for reform.

As my colleague Jon Sanders explains, the bill makes important changes:

  1. Ensure that all sources of electricity generation, including renewable sources, are options for utilities to fill their needs for reliable, sufficient power provision. This would not artificially limit any potential energy source, including solar and wind, from use if they are cost-competitive with other sources.
  2. Apply the standard of least-cost mix of electricity generation to all energy sources.
  3. Prevent the REPS surcharge on residential customers from nearly tripling, which is due to happen in July even as commercial and industrial customers’ REPS surcharges stay the same.
  4. Cap the REPS mandate at 6 percent and sunset it in 2018 (a hold-harmless provision would protect compliance costs incurred and purchase contracts made under the old REPS mandate).
  5. Request a comprehensive study assessing known and measurable costs and benefits of distributed generation, including grid issues and standby generation issues associated with nondispatchable sources and unseen costs imposed by consumers not participating in net metering.

This is not a uniquely North Carolina problem. Other states are facing the same job killing, costly problem and are moving forward to repeal and freeze their renewable energy standard mandates.  West Virginia has repealed their renewable energy standards this year (it was one of the first actions under new Republican leadership). The Texas Senate repealed their RPS last week:   And Ohio put a freeze on their renewable energy standard. North Carolina should follow suit.

Who else thinks repeal of the state renewable energy mandate is a good idea?

  1. The North Carolina Republican Party in their 2014 Platform: Article IX, 3:
  2. We support energy security, affordable energy and energy independence. A comprehensive energy policy includes offshore and onshore oil and natural gas, nuclear power, coal, solar, wind and alternative fuels that do not adversely impact the food supply or energy costs. We support efforts to develop oil and natural gas through safe, clean, hydraulic fracturing. We call for repeal of the national ethanol mandate and EPA and offshore regulation and the state renewable energy mandate. 
  3. Twenty public policy and grass roots organizations.  
  4. The John Locke Foundation as explained here and here and here.
  5. These North Carolina legislative leaders recognize the importance of low cost reliable energy and are behind the good ideas in House Bill 681: Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender), Rep, Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), Rep Jeff Collins (R-Nash), Rep Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Rep Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), Rep. Rayne Brown (R-Davidson), Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow), Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin), Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), Rep. Dennis Riddell (R-Alamance), Rep. Phil Shepard (R-Onslow), Rep. Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania).  Where does your legislator stand?

House Bill 681, NC Energy Ratepayers Protection Act is a good idea because energy costs matter – To individuals, to businesses, to consumers and to taxpayers.