Renewable Portfolio Back on Chopping Block in North Carolina

We knew it was too good to be true when Republicans in North Carolina voted to keep their Renewable Portfolio Standard last week.

But that was in a House committee, so the sponsor, Rep. Hager, asked colleagues to introduce it in the Senate Finance Committee where, audaciously, it was passed without counting the votes.

It was voted on a "voice-vote," which means people simply shout out yea or ney, but when you can’t tell which side wins, there’s always a call for a count. In this case, the chair adjourned the meeting, talking over Senators who were asking for a count. 

"North Carolina is not a banana republic," Sen. Josh Stein (D-Raleigh) who voted NO, told the Raleigh News Observer. "That was no way to run a proceeding."

Watch the scene:

 


The bill now moves to the Commerce committee. It has to get to the floor by May 16 to keep it alive for this legislative session.

Rep. Mike Hager, a former engineer at Duke Energy and a member of ALEC, who’s "Electricity Freedom Act," he’s pushing, promises to keep reintroducing H298 until it gets passed.

Greenpeace puts it aptly

This existing RPS law requires utilities in North Carolina, a market essentially monopolized by Duke Energy, to increase generation of electricity from renewable sources to 12.5% by 2020. But Duke Energy plans on generating only 3% of its electricity from renewables by 2032, so bankrolling organizations like ALEC that kill clean energy incentives works fine for Duke.

Duke Energy aside, a legion of national interests financed by the billionaire Koch brothers and multimillionaire Art Pope have flooded North Carolina with misinformation on clean energy and provided support to Rep. Hager’s ALEC bill. Most of these groups-like Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax ReformHeartland Institute and John Locke Foundation – are coordinated through an umbrella of corporate front groups known as the State Policy Network.

ALEC and State Policy Network groups have made killing clean energy incentives a national priority this year; after failing in Kansas, facing delays in Ohio and having a rough start in North Carolina, they’re hungry for a trophy to show to the fossil fuel interests that fund their dirty work. And they’re willing to resort to dirty tricks to reach their goals, like skipping the part where you count lawmakers’ votes.

Read
our background on this story and why the bill to kill the RPS was voted down in the House committee.

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