Editorial: Irrational opposition to wind energy jeopardizes state's clean energy economy

Posted July 4

A CBC Editorial: Tuesday, July 4, 2017; Editorial # 8181
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

State Sen. Harry Brown of Onslow County says the Pentagon is lying to North Carolina.

The U.S. Defense Department has repeatedly, officially, stated that two key wind energy projects proposed in the eastern part of the state are NOT a threat to the training going on at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base or the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point.

But Brown says he knows better. “The generals will tell me, off the record, how important this is. They won’t say it in public. It’s the biggest threat to their bases of anything out there at this point,” Brown told WRAL-TV’s Laura Leslie last week.

Biggest threat? Bigger than terrorist infiltrations? Bigger than hurricanes? Bigger than disruptions in the international petroleum markets that could limit the fuel that powers our national defense?

Please. Rest assured, we doubt there’s anyone at the Pentagon so timid that, if there were any real threats to operations at these bases, they wouldn’t muffle their opposition in the least.

Brown is using his powerful post as Senate Budget chairman to impose his irrational opposition to the reasonable and responsible development of wind energy in the state. He did it last week by imposing a midnight deal in legislation to update clean energy laws.

Aside from the stupidity of the wind energy moratorium, it jeopardizes many important and beneficial reforms, the main parts of the legislation that enhance opportunities to grow and expand renewable energy – particularly solar energy.

It was a finely-tuned compromise that took months of work and goodwill between a variety of diverse interests, including traditional energy producers and distributors of electric power like Duke Energy as well as those involved in various aspects of renewable energy – solar power, wind power and those developing energy from other sources such as animal waste.

It represents a key step to further the expansion of one of the state’s brightest economic development achievements. While many sectors of the economy have been stagnant in North Carolina, renewable energy and energy efficiency have added $9 billion in investment over the last 10 years – half of which came in the last two years -- and added nearly 47,000 jobs.

Significantly, the development and jobs have been spread around the state, not just in urban centers.

State Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram represents a largely rural area in the northeastern part of the state, with a significant African-American population. She said the wind moratorium will “steal” energy and “kill jobs” that are badly needed in her economically-distressed area of the state. Two pending wind projects represent nearly a $1 billion investment and would provide a major boost in property tax income for the area.

The injection of Brown’s wind moratorium has the potential of putting the interests of those involved with solar energy expansions in opposition to wind energy developers.

Do solar advocates call on Gov. Roy Cooper to sign the bill because of the good it will do their renewable energy sector, even if it harms wind energy development? Stopping short of calling for a veto, the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association said it was “disappointed” in the “reckless adoption” of the bill and would work to “lessen this blow to our growing and diverse clean energy economy.”

Brown and his fellow leaders in the General Assembly continually promise to run North Carolina government like a business. No well-run business purposely stifles bright growth opportunities.

The governor needs to make a REAL pro-business stand and veto this bill because of the poison pill Brown’s wind moratorium imposes. It is foolish and unnecessary. Cooper should demand the legislature strip out the wind provision and send him a bill that he can sign, like the legislation as it was passed by the state House.

Now, that would be pro-business.

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Capitol Broadcasting Company owns a solar farm in Wake County that has been in operation since April 2012. The electricity generated is sold to Duke Progress Energy.

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  • Tom Harris Jul 4, 9:25 a.m.
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    Another example of misguided legislation from a GOP member operating with much less than a full deck. What is disturbing is that a majority of his NC GOP cohorts go along with him. Truly amazin'.