GOP cracks its Whip on renewable energy

Rep. Mike Hager sets his sights on NC's REPS requirement:

But Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County views the mandate as the government unfairly “picking winners and losers” in the marketplace. As chairman of the Public Utilities committee, Hager would like to freeze it at the current 3 percent level. “Under our scenario, you would never go to 12.5 percent,” he said.

That's kind of like big energy companies unfairly paying to play in NC elections, so they can bring (what's supposed to be) our government under their power. Why would entities like Duke Energy and REAP care what kind of energy they produce, if they're going to charge us for it anyway? Because traditional power plants cost billions to build, making a lot of influential people even richer:

The extra $177.6 million for the power plant, tacked onto a price tag of $2.191 billion, is one of the key issues facing the state Public Service Commission as it weighs how much We Energies can raise electricity rates in January.

Steel and construction prices rose after We Energies locked in its contract with Bechtel, to the point where a similar plant being built in North Carolina will cost one-third more than Oak Creek, chief executive Gale Klappa said during a recent investor presentation.

The PSC had capped the project cost at $2.19 billion but allowed the utility the ability to go over that amount by 5%. The current case involves reviewing all of the extra project costs to determine whether they were prudent.

The overall rate increase sought by the utility would result in bills climbing by 5%, or $138 million, in 2013, and by 3.6%, or $104.1 million, in 2014.

And that's just a coal plant. Nuke plants would cost much more, possibly ten times as much, and the big utilities and construction firms are aching to get back into that wildly extravagant business. Even if it means saddling the public with a crushing debt (see Electricities) for decades.

And as far as this likely disengenuous quip:

Duke Energy North Carolina President Brett Carter, in a recent interview, said Duke is “open to conversations” about Senate Bill 3.

“If the incentives for solar go away, it’s likely because solar has become competitive on its own merit and, therefore, can compete against other energy sources,” he said.

Solar didn't become competitive on its own merit, that success is due in a large part to the demand created by Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards like NC's SB3. Not properly crediting the program smacks of either ignorance or intentional deception. And I'm not sure which one of those things is worse.

Comments

Pocket Weasel

It's funny he claimed he was a good ol' Southern Baptist when he said that the opportunity for jobs over-rode the bad side of gambling (and he was getting some really nice campaign donations from gambling industries). Now he says that this isn't fair to business - because the government picks winners and losers... although renewable energy creates jobs. Looks like the winner here is Duke Energy....and Mike Hager, because Duke makes some really nice contributions also.

Hager is ALEC, Duke is ALEC, and this initiative is ALEC's....

This smells like the American Legislative Exchange Council's 2013 priority for energy and environment--repealing state clean energy laws. As ALEC's Todd Wynn opinied on the libertarian front blog Master Resource (set up by the Koch-funded and -staffed Institute for Energy Research), ALEC is targeting North Carolina and many other states with Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards.

Duke (and Progress before the merger) is a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, which is led by Todd Wynn. The EEA task force is the division of ALEC that created the "Electricity Freedom Act," the model state law to repeal clean energy laws.

Rep. Hager used to work for Duke and Duke is his second largest political contributor after the NC Republican Party (see FollowTheMoney.org).

Wrapping things up in this twisted irony is how Duke bragged to John Downey at the Charlotte Business Journal last April about their role in crafting SB3, and in the same article they said they don't support ALEC's model bill rolling back the REPS laws! What changed Duke's mind?

Rep. Hager also told the Journal, "I'm not a big fan of model legislation." Ironic, if not dishonest.

....so we'll see whatever Hager introduces. Because if it's not ALEC, it's exactly in line with their effort, backed by Duke, Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal.