ALEC’s Energy

Bill to repeal North Carolina’s RPS passes House committee

Bill to repeal North Carolina’s RPS passes House committee

NC-Rep-Mike-Hager-214x300

North Carolina Representative Mike Hager, the bill’s chief sponsor, is a member of ALEC, which is attempting to overturn or weaken RPS policies in 19 states

A bill to repeal the US state of North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has passed a committee of the state’s House of Representatives 11-10. The bill must now pass more committees, the full House and the North Carolina Senate before it can go to the governor to be signed.

House Bill 298, the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act” was Electricity Freedom Actintroduced by House Majority Whip Mike Hager (R), and three other members of the state’s Republican Party. The bill is one of many state-level efforts to repeal RPS policies that have been advanced by Republicans through a national effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“This is simply the wrong move at the wrong time,” said Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). “No good ever comes when you pass laws based on a mistaken premise and the assumption underlying this bill that the REPS law raises electricity rates and costs jobs could not be further from the truth.”

The next step for H298 is the North Carolina House Commerce and Job Development Committee.

State gains 21,200 “job-years” through clean energy policies

NCSEA cites a report by RTI International and La Capra Associates Inc. which shows that North Carolina consumers stand to gain more than USD 173 million in cost savings between 2007 and 2026 due to the state’s clean energy policies, including the RPS.

The same study also showed that North Carolina also gained 21,200 job-years from 2007 to 2012 through these policies.

RPS includes solar thermal, solar carve-out

North Carolina is one of the few utilities to pass an RPS in the US South, a region which is dominated by large utility monopolies, who generally hold regressive stances towards renewable energy.

The state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard mandates that private utilities in the state move to 12.5% renewable energy by 2021. The policy lists solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies including solar water heating as eligible technologies, and mandates a minimum of 0.2% solar by 2018.

Effort to dismantle RPS policies in 19 US states

Chief sponsor Hager and at least six other sponsors of the bill are members of ALEC, a right-wing non-profit that is funded by fossil fuel interests including coal giant Peabody Energy (St. Louis, Missouri, US) and Koch Industries (Wichita, Kansas, US).

ALEC members in states legislatures have brought forward legislation in at least 19 US states to repeal, freeze or weaken RPS policies, based on the “Electricity Freedom Act”, model legislation drafted by ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.

Several of these efforts, such as the one in Kansas, have been defeated. However, bills in Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia have become law.

Bills inspire SEIA, AWEA to leave ALEC

As RPS policies represent the largest single policy effort to mandate the switch to renewable energy for electricity production in the United States, this effort is firmly aimed at stopping the nation’s limited renewable energy progress.

Following the introduction of this legislation, both the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA, Washington DC, US) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, DC, US) left ALEC. SEIA also cited a lack of support for other legislative efforts.

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This article is posted at http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/current/2013/kw15/bill-to-repeal-north-carolinas-rps-passes-house-committee-11-10.html

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ALEC/Koch Cabal Attack on Clean Energy Begins in NC

Duke Energy & Koch Brothers kill clean energy in North Carolina

by Connor Gibson

As anticipated, former Duke Energy engineer and North Carolina Representative Mike Hager has introduced a version of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Electricity Freedom Act” into the state’s General Assembly.

House Bill 298 would fully repeal North Carolina’s renewable portfolio NC-Rep-Mike-Hager-214x300standard (RPS)–a state law requiring utilities to generate more electricity from clean sources over time. The existing RPS law is credited for contributing to the rapid growth of the clean energy sector in North Carolina.

By introducing a bill to fully repeal North Carolina’s RPS law, Rep. Hager is backtracking on his own promise not to eliminate current renewable energy targets for NC’s dominant utility, Duke Energy. From the Charlotte Business Journal last December:

Hager says he does not support eliminating the renewable requirements. N.C. utilities already have committed to long-term contracts to meet the current level of renewable-energy requirements. So changing the rules could cause problems for the utilities, he notes. That is why he generally favors capping renewables at the current level.

But Rep. Hager abandoned this position, instead marching in lockstep with the American Legislative Exchange Council’s full repeal initiative.

At least seven of the bill’s sponsors are known affiliates of ALEC, including three of the four primary sponsors–Rep’s Mike Hager, Marilyn Avila, George Cleveland, Rayne Brown, Justin Burr, Sarah Stevens, and Mike Stone.

ALEC has many other members in the NC legislature, including House Speaker Thom Tillis, who just joined ALEC’s national Board of Directors.

ALEC’s Electricity Freedom Act, the model bill reflected in Rep. MALEC-Heartlandike Hager’s H298, was born from its Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force and was written by the Heartland Institute, a member of the task force. Other members of ALEC anti-environmental task force include Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Duke Energy.

Despite heavy public pressure to disassociate from ALEC’s attacks on clean energy, climate policy and other controversial subjects like voter suppression, Duke Energy remains a paying member of ALEC. Duke helped finance ALEC’s conference in Charlotte last spring, where the Electricity Freedom Act was first drafted:

Duke pays heavily for ALEC’s operations–they have spent $116,000 on ALEC meetings since 2009, including $50,000 for ALEC’s May 2012 meeting in Charlotte, NC where Duke is headquartered (Charlotte Business Journal). This well exceeds the top annual ALEC membership fee of $25,000.

As I wrote in January, Duke Energy (recently merged with Progress Energy) is now backtracking on their support for North Carolina’s clean energy standard:

This is where ALEC makes things awkward for Duke Energy: the law that Rep. Mike Hager is targeting (2007 SB3) was created with input from Duke Energy, and Duke explicitly opposes ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act,” the model law to repeal state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS). Duke Energy re-asserted its support for North Carolina’s REPS law to the Charlotte Business Journal last April and Progress Energy publicly supported the law before merging with Duke.

Less than a year ago Duke Energy was explicitly opposed to an ALEC RPS repeal in North Carolina. Now Duke’s NC president says they are “open to conversations” on changes to the RPS.

Duke Energy helped pass the RPS laws in North Carolina and Ohio, another state where ALEC legislators are introducing versions of the Electricity Freedom Act.

Through ALEC, Duke Can Kill Clean Energy Requirements and Get its Money back from Ratepayers:

Surviving text to the RPS law gutted by Rep. Hager’s H298 includes provisions allowing Duke Energy to charge its ratepayers to recover compliance costs from the clean energy requirements. For that text: see § 62-133.8. (H) (4) “Cost Recovery and Customer Charges”

This provision reflects a late change ALEC made to it’s model RPS repeal bill, perhaps at the request of ALEC member utilities like Duke Energy. Text added to the Electricity Freedom Act allows utilities to recover compliance costs from RPS laws after they are repealed. Compare last year’s draft version of the Electricity Freedom Act with the final version from October 2012–you’ll notice the key additions, particularly this clause:

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Act also recognizes the prudency and reasonableness of many of the renewable contracts and investments and allows for recovery of costs where appropriate;

Not the first time ALEC legislators have attacked NC clean energy:

Sue Sturgis at the Institute for Southern Studies notes that Rep. Hager’s bill isn’t the first legislative attempt to kill North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard. One of the co-sponsors of Hager’s bill already tried to repeal the RPS law in 2011:

Last year, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) — among the state lawmakers with ALEC ties – sponsored a bill to overturn North Carolina’s renewable energy law. It gained no co-sponsors and went nowhere, but the outcome could be different now that ALEC is getting more actively involved in the issue.

Legislators who have taken aim at clean energy incentives have been egged on by corporate interest groups, often with money trails leading back to the Koch brothers, Art Pope, and other wealthy elites. Sue Sturgis detailed how ALEC and other State Policy Network groups were gearing up to repeal the RPS before Mike Hager introduced his bill yesterday:

Last year, representatives of the groups gave presentations around the state that were critical of the state’s renewable energy standard. Among the presenters was Daren Bakst, director of legal and regulatory studies for the John Locke Foundation and a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which crafted the model law overturning state renewable energy standards.

Joining Bakst were representatives of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), a fossil-fuel industry-funded think tank that was behind a controversial freedom of information lawsuit against the University of Virginia that sought to discredit a prominent climate scientist. ATI has also targeted state renewable energy programs.

Several years ago, the John Locke Foundation teamed up with the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative research organization that has received support from the Koch family foundations, to release a report claiming North Carolina’s renewable energy law was having a negative economic impact.

One of the first groups we can expect to see chime in will be the Beacon Hill Institute. ALEC and other State Policy Network members have used Beacon Hill’s fundamentally flawed reports as the justification for repealing state RPS repeals in NC, KS, OH and other states. See these sources for a debunk of the Beacon Hill papers:

Beacon Hill will not be alone. We can expect continued support for the clean energy attack from Art Pope’s front groups like the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute and other State Policy Network affiliates funded by Pope, the Koch brothers, and Donors Trust.

This is exactly what is happening with the Kansas clean energy standard: representatives of several State Policy Network groups including the Beacon Hill Institute, the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute’s Chris Horner swarmed into Kansas to support the RPS repeal.

As the debate around Mike Hager’s bill unfolds, we’ll see who the Kochs send in to support his effort.
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This article is written by Connor Gibson and is posted at http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2013/03/14/alec-bill-to-kill-nc-clean-energy-law-surfaces-koch-fronts-and-duke-energy-behind-the-curtains/
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States Pushing ALEC Bill To Require Teaching Climate Change Denial In Schools

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – known by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” – has hit the ground running in 2013, pushing “models bills” mandating the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems.

January hasn’t even ended, yet ALEC has already planted its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” – which mandates a “balanced” teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms – in the state legislatures of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona so far this year.

In the past five years since 2008, among the hottest years in U.S. history, ALEC has introduced its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” in 11 states, or over one-fifth of the statehouses nationwide. The bill has passed in four states, an undeniable form of “big government” this “free market” organization decries in its own literature. More →

ALEC Leads Attack on North Carolina Clean Energy with Duke Funding

Corporate polluters are taking aim this year at states with renewable energy laws, starting with an attack on North Carolina’s clean energy economy by a corporate front group known as ALEC with support from Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries.

NC Rep. Mike Hager: ALEC member and former Duke Energy employee.

North Carolina state Representative Mike Hager says he is confident that he has the votes needed to weaken or undo his state’s clean energy requirements during his second term. Rep. Hager is a former Duke Energy engineer and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Duke and Progress Energy (now legally merged) have given Rep. Hager $14,500 for his last two election bids, outspent only by the NC Republican Party.

This is where ALEC makes things awkward for Duke Energy: the law that Rep. Mike Hager is targeting (2007 SB3) was created with input from Duke Energy, and Duke explicitly opposes ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act,” the model law to repeal state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS). Duke Energy re-asserted its support for North Carolina’s REPS law to the Charlotte Business Journal last April and Progress Energy publicly supported the law before merging with Duke. More →

ALEC, TransCanada, and the Keystone XL Pipeline

Found these today while researching something else:

Ohio – 2011 Scholarship Fund
TransCanada Pipelines Limited   $1,000.00

South Dakota – 2007 Scholarship Fund
TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.          $500.00
Which leads me to the following questions –

  • How long has TransCanada Pipelines been involved with ALEC?
  • What level of involvement has TransCanada had with writing ALEC legislation?
  • Is this why the Premier of Saskatchewan and staff went to an ALEC meeting?
  • How much financial support have they given to ALEC?
  • How much undue influence have ALEC members had in regards to TransCanada and the Keystone – based on their association with TransCanada through ALEC?
  • Did the Koch brothers make sure this connection was made between ALEC and TransCanada?

Lots of questions –
I guess the public would like some Keystone/TransCanada/American Legislative Exchange Council answers on this!!!

UPDATE:
Further research brought the following items to light: More →

North Carolina Advocates for Justice endorses ALEC Members – UPDATED, and it’s worse

Despite posting this to NCAJ on their Facebook page, there has been no response from anyone at NCAJ.

memo to self:  research NCAJ and see if they are what they claim to be.

updates: NCAJ endorsed candidates Marilyn Avila and Jamie Boles confirmed  as members of ALEC

 

“The North Carolina Advocates For Justice was formed more than 45 years ago by a small group of trial lawyers who wanted to protect peoples’ rights. Today, the North Carolina Advocates For Justice has almost 4,000 members and is one of the top protectors of individual rights in North Carolina. NC Advocates For Justice members represent those injured by the wrongdoing of others, workers fighting for their rights in the workplace, the disabled, those addressing family problems, consumers, those in debt, and those accused of crime.

“The North Carolina Advocates for Justice accomplishes its mission through effective advocacy work in the NC state legislature advocating for the rights of all citizens, through the development of over 40 professional development seminars annually to help attorneys improve their skills, and through the administration of a variety of public outreach and education initiatives aimed at enhancing public understanding of the US legal system. The organization’s Legal Affairs Committee also monitors the development of law and serves as a trial attorney advocate to the State Bar.”

The above is quoted directly fromo the NCAJ web page located at http://www.ncaj.com/page/about/?submenuheader=0

I want to emphasize that NCAJ is a good organization doing a lot of good work.  But it’s a shame that these well-intentioned attorneys did not bother to do their “due diligence”.  Included in their recommendations are a number of ALEC members:

Dist. 37 – Paul Stam–member Civil Justice Task Force–Art Pope‘s (who used to be, and may still be a member of  ALEC) “boy” in the legislature.

Dist. 40 – Marilyn Avila–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces confirmed member of ALEC

Dist. 52 – Jamie Boles–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces confirmed member of ALEC

Dist. 53 – David Lewis–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 68 – D. Craig Horn – member Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force

Dist. 77 – Harry Warren–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 79 – Julia Howard–member Health and Human Services Task Force

Dist. 86 – Hugh Blackwell – member Civil Justice Task Force

Dist. 90 – Sarah Stevens–was a member of the Public Safety and Elections Task force which was disbanded because of the Stand Your Ground legislation and the Trayvon Martin murder.

Dist. 108 – John Torbett–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 117 – Chuck McGrady–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces.

We know from ALECexposed and Common Cause releases that Mr. Horn is a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.  But looking at the extensive information provided by the NC Legislature, we can look at every member of the state legislature and see what bills they have introduced and how they have voted on every bill,

In the case of Mr. Horn More →

Coalition letter to DNC: Tell Duke Energy to Dump ALEC!

Today, Greenpeace and the Coalition to March on Wall Street South sent a letter to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, highlighting the DNC’s connection to the American Legislative Exchange Council through Duke Energy.

In May, Duke gave ALEC $50,000 for its meeting in Charlotte, NC and has consistently offered staff support at multiple levels of ALEC operations. Now it’s providing office space and a ten million dollar loan for the Democratic National Convention, also in Charlotte. Beyond acting as a political double-agent, Duke Energy’s heavy support for ALEC’s anti-environmental work goes against its own commitments to take climate change and clean energy seriously.

To read all of this excellent Greenpeace USA article by Connor Gibson and to download the pdf file of the complete letter sent to DWS, please click here.