Bill to repeal North Carolina’s RPS passes House committee

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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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