@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

House panel turns out light on effort to end renewable energy subsidies

Posted April 24, 2013
Updated April 25, 2013

— A western North Carolina lawmaker received a stinging defeat Wednesday as his own committee voted down his proposal to freeze and repeal the state's renewable energy standards.

Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, had pulled House Bill 298 from the House Committee on Environment, where it faced questionable support, to put it in front of the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy, which he chairs, in hopes of keeping the legislation moving forward.

Instead, an 18-13 vote killed the bill, with powerful Republican Reps. Tim Moore, Ruth Samuelson, Nelson Dollar and others joining Democrats in opposing the measure.

Hager's bill would have ended the set-asides and subsidies for solar energy, wind energy and other renewables that lawmakers created in 2007. North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, requiring utility companies to acquire a growing percentage of their power from renewable sources.

"If the only way a business can move forward is with a subsidy, then maybe we need to rethink the business," said Hager, a former Duke Energy employee.

He argued that the renewables requirement was costing consumers money and disputed opponents' contention that it had spawned a growing green-energy industry in North Carolina.

Other lawmakers responded by saying Duke Energy has its own subsidy by having an electric monopoly in many parts of the state and that government subsidies have been used for decades to help fledgling industries, from railroads to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Summer Lanier, a spokeswoman for Prestage Farms, a turkey and pork processor, said Hager's bill would scuttle the company's efforts to build a waste-to-energy plant in Bladen County and jeopardize other investments and job-creation efforts in eastern North Carolina.

John Morrison, chief operating officer of Strata Solar, which started four years ago and is now the nation's fourth-largest solar company, said the subsidies don't cost consumers a penny. Utilities would spend the same amount buying power from his company – or any other renewable energy supplier – as they would if they had generated it themselves, he said.

But Donald Bryson, a policy analyst with the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, called the 2007 renewables law "shoddy" and told lawmakers that consumers shouldn't have subsidies for green-energy firms "rammed down their throats."

18 Comments

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  • lookingforward Apr 26, 7:29 a.m.

    Typical BIG Corporate mentality: I break - Government FIX. I make billons of dollars Government pays (financially, economically, socially etc) for cleanup such as BP. Then, I complain about Government spending. When oil dries up, I abandon oil drilling rigs & let it ROT for a century. Next step in solution advertise on TV through higher gas prices that Amergyenergy is creating domestic jobs.....But, nobody is buying the lies now.

  • lance4 Apr 25, 1:43 p.m.

    If the cost of fossil fuels included in any way the cost of damage to the environment they do, then no subsidies would be required for renewables. Unfortunately they don't. And because they don't, that means that it's practically a guarantee that at some point down the road we WILL have to pay a huge bill to deal with the consequences of it (like the billions of $$ spent to mitigate rising sea levels/cleaning up after disasters like Katrina and Sandy). Practically speaking our economy wouldn't survive a sudden step up in fuel costs to put in the bank for future use). Additionally fossil fuels are a finite quantity. It's getting harder (more expensive) to extract them from the ground. So what is wrong with easing into alternatives (even with subsidies) before it DOES get too expensive and we have to learn all the lessons we are learning now about what works and what doesn't? It took decades to get our current infrastructure in place. We can't wait until the last minute to switch.

  • downtowner Apr 25, 11:13 a.m.

    "Not to mention as a now full-blown monopoly it's nice to see Duke Progress be put back in its place. Their army of lobbyists lost this battle."

    The battle has only begun...

  • Kaitlyn Apr 25, 10:57 a.m.

    Finally some good news out of this legislature! Good for jobs in NC, good for the environment and good for our future!

  • floydthebarber Apr 25, 10:02 a.m.

    Glad to see some bi-partisan common sense come out of at least one of these committees. The renewal credits are a net positive for communities served and everyone benefits from clean energy.

    Not to mention as a now full-blown monopoly it's nice to see Duke Progress be put back in its place. Their army of lobbyists lost this battle.

  • nosacredcow Apr 25, 4:36 a.m.

    when it comes to politicians, writing something like "former Duke Energy employee", Former should always be contained in quotes.

  • lookingforward Apr 24, 10:42 p.m.

    You folks are too funny... on one hand you complain about big oil subsidies... no doubt while driving your car and complaining about the cost, and enjoying your homes heat. Then you want taxpayers to dump hundreds of billions of dollars into failed and failing renewable energy sources. At least with one of these your actually GETTING something... the other... not so much. Yes, when energy sources become even more scarce, private industry and investors will lead they way.... not govt subsidies.

    I'm against ALL taxpayer funded subsidies and tax breaks. ALL! - EXCEPT OIL

    Before you talk about other people driving cars. Do you REALLY know what they drive.

    I suppose you must be opposed to government giving you personal exemption on your income tax return every year, if you are a tax paying citizen.

    I think everyone is serious. Nobody likes higher taxes, but sometimes, they are necessary. Even Warren Buffett has said, "Tax me More". You may be smarter than him.

  • beth26 Apr 24, 10:01 p.m.

    MEP your lack of knowledge on this issue is not worth addressing. Clearly you have spent too much time filling your head with propaganda. For the rest of the thinkers out there this is great news for renewables in the Southeast. My applause goes to the forward thinking politicians regardless of party for realizing that America can't survive on one group of energy alone. Wal-Mart was just recognized as the largest green energy power creator in the country. IKEA has just placed the largest solar installation in Maryland and now 80% of it's properties in the US have solar, but remember MEP only treehuggers get solar not major American corporations like Wal-Mart. This just proves that big business is once again ahead of the politicians. There are articles about both these stories on the the internet. I would provide links but don't want to violate posting rules.

  • mep Apr 24, 7:48 p.m.

    You folks are too funny... on one hand you complain about big oil subsidies... no doubt while driving your car and complaining about the cost, and enjoying your homes heat. Then you want taxpayers to dump hundreds of billions of dollars into failed and failing renewable energy sources. At least with one of these your actually GETTING something... the other... not so much. Yes, when energy sources become even more scarce, private industry and investors will lead they way.... not govt subsidies.

    I'm against ALL taxpayer funded subsidies and tax breaks. ALL!

  • Ex-Republican Apr 24, 6:53 p.m.

    "That's the ONLY reason this crop of far right REPUBLICANS in the legislature would vote for something that is forward thinking."

    So, geosol, you apparently hate the Republicans so much you can't even give them credit when they do something you agree with. That's just a shame!

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