Will ALEC and its allies kill North Carolina's renewable energy law?
Will ALEC and its allies kill North Carolina's renewable energy law?

Meet the ALEC-connected lawmakers behind bill to kill NC renewable energy law

Will ALEC and its allies kill North Carolina's renewable energy law?
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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial and powerful group that brings together state legislators and corporate representatives to promote conservative policies, has been pushing to repeal state renewable energy standards -- and now lawmakers affiliated with the group have filed legislation to do just that in North Carolina.

This week, the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act (H298) was introduced to repeal the state's renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS), which currently requires 3 percent of all electricity sold in the state to come from renewable sources, with that portion rising to 12.5 percent by 2025. North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to adopt a REPS law, with the General Assembly passing it with broad bipartisan support in 2007.

The move to scrap the REPS comes despite research showing that the law has been responsible for significant job creation in North Carolina, which was recently found to be among the top states for clean-energy project announcements.

The North Carolina REPS repeal bill has four primary sponsors -- and three of the four have known affiliations with ALEC. The primary sponsors, all Republicans, are:

* State Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford, Burke). First elected to the state House in 2010, Hager is an engineer who worked for 17 years for Duke Energy, which under H298 would be allowed to recoup from its customers the costs of contracts it has entered for renewable power. Though Hager says he is now retired from the utility, his economic disclosure form does not report any income from the utility giant. However, it does report that he received $1,000 from ALEC to attend a conference in 2011.

The head of the Public Utilities and Energy Committee, Hager has also been a key leader in the push to allow fracking for natural gas in North Carolina, even attempting to have a key vote taken on the matter when a Democrat momentarily left the floor during debate.

The top industry contributor to Hager's campaign is electric utilities, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics' FollowTheMoney.org database. In the most recent election cycle, he received $8,000 from Duke Energy, $5,500 from the N.C. Association of Electric Cooperatives, $4,000 from Progress Energy, and $2,000 from Dominion.

* Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake). A chemist who once worked for the North Carolina-based textile giant HanesBrands, Avila was elected to the General Assembly in 2006. Before that, she spent 15 years working as the administrative director and event coordinator with the John Locke Foundation (JLF), a Raleigh think tank that was founded and is funded primarily by leading conservative financier Art Pope, who is now the state budget director.

JLF has been a leading voice of climate science denial in North Carolina, and it has been working to repeal the REPS with representatives of ALEC and the American Tradition Institute, another climate science denial group with fossil-fuel industry connections. Avila is among the North Carolina lawmakers who attended ALEC's 2011 annual meeting.

In the most recent election cycle, energy interests were among her top 10 biggest donors, according to FollowTheMoney.org.

* Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow). A former Marine and assistant security officer for the State Department, Cleveland was elected to the state House in 2004. He filed legislation to repeal REPS during the last legislative session, but it didn't go anywhere.

Earlier this year, Cleveland sponsored a talk at the legislature by John Droz, a fellow with the American Tradition Institute, that attacked renewable energy and purported to show that global warming is a scientific hoax. In 2010, Cleveland was among the state lawmakers who signed an ALEC letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposing plans to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Electric utilities were fourth among Cleveland's biggest industry contributors in the latest election cycle, according to FollowTheMoney.org.

* Rep. Jeff Collins (R-Nash, Franklin). A financial consultant and the founder of Rocky Mount Bible Church, Collins is the only one of the four primary sponsors of the REPS repeal bill who does not have documented ties to ALEC. He is a member of the Public Utilities and Energy Committee chaired by Hager.

Electric utilities were sixth among Collins' biggest industry contributors in the latest election cycle, according to FollowTheMoney.org.

Of the 21 co-sponsors of the bill, five also have known ties to ALEC: Reps. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke), Rayne Brown (R-Davidson), Justin Burr (R-Stanly), Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), and Mike Stone (R-Lee). In addition, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), who will play a key role in advancing the legislation, recently joined ALEC's board of directors.

ALEC claims that renewable energy standards increase energy costs, but research has shown just the opposite: A recent study conducted by RTI International and La Capra Associates for the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association showed that the state's REPS law was not only a key driver of clean energy development and job creation but that the law will also lead to lower electricity rates over time by avoiding the construction of costly new fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. By 2026, the state's clean energy program will have resulted in a total of $173 million in cost savings for electricity customers, the study found.

ALEC's modus operandi has drawn widespread criticism, with the watchdog group Common Cause filing an IRS complaint last year accusing the group of violating its tax-exempt status by lobbying state lawmakers.

Almost 98 percent of ALEC's budget is raised from sources other than legislative dues, including corporations, trade associations, and corporate foundations, according to the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed project. ALEC has also gotten significant funding from foundations controlled by the billionaire brothers behind the Koch Industries oil and chemical conglomerate, who have also been major funders of attacks on climate science and renewable energy.

Duke Energy is on the record as supporting North Carolina's REPS law, but at the same time it's a paying member of ALEC (despite calls to resign) and helped finance the group's conference held last spring in the company's hometown of Charlotte, N.C. That's where the Electricity Freedom Act -- ALEC's model bill to repeal REPS -- was drafted by the Heartland Institute, a prominent climate science denial group that's received significant funding from fossil fuel interests including the Kochs and Exxon Mobil, another major funder of climate disinformation.

While the language of the North Carolina bill differs from that in the model legislation, the measures would have the same effect of ending renewable energy purchase requirements for the state's investor-owned utilities.

It's uncertain how North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), a longtime Duke Energy employee who holds substantial investments in the company, would respond to the bill should it pass the legislature and end up on his desk. McCrory has been particularly supportive of offshore wind, embracing it as part of his all-of-the-above energy strategy.

The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. reports that McCrory is currently discussing the future of North Carolina's renewable energy program with his advisers and cabinet and said it was important to be clear with investors about the state's long-term plan.

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Comments

Bill to Kill Renewables and Real Costs of 'Free Market' Energy

So called 'Free Markets' as they exist, don't include the hidden costs of oil, gas and coal.

What would gasoline cost if we factor in the **$4,000,000,000 to $6,000,000,000 trillion dollar taxpayer costs of the Iraq and Irans OIL WARS to the price of gas at the pump.

What would our electric bill be if it included the hundreds of billions of dollars in cancer, lung / asthma related health care costs attributable to mercury, ozone and particulates from 'Dirty Coal'. (there is no such thing as clean coal)

How about the environmental damage & water pollution from huge strip mines and mountain top removal to communities & towns down stream and down wind.

Nuclear energy can't even obtain insurance or permits to build a single new plant without huge trillion dollar federal guarantees that absolve their owner / operators from liability in the event of a nuclear leak or accident. The cost of construction and the safety cost imperative is so high, it just isn't competitive.

Renewable energy (wind, solar, etc) is making a difference by creating clean, local energy and good jobs right here in America. Yes it costs a little more right now. But the costs are getting lower every year as we deploy new technology and increase scale.
In fact, wind energy added 42% of all new US electrical generation in 2012.***

Yes, we need 'most of the above' energy solutions to power america and fuel growth.

But, make no mistake: Big Coal, Oil, Gas and traditional energy producers don't want 'Clean Energy' competition or a level playing field. That's why they want to kill state by state Renewable Energy Portfolio requirements with the help of their political cronies. DON'T FALL FOR IT. Speak up, Speak loud and Support Clean Energy Requirements and Goals.

** "The most expensive wars in US history"
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/articles/bilmes-iraq-afghan-...

*** "Wind tops US sources of new electricity generation in 2012"
http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/02/wind-tops-u-s-sources-of-new-elec...

Greedy

Right on? The free market will be better? the CEOs and greedy corporations will do a better job? Excuse me? Stop drinking the tea and listening to Faux news! Every one of these politicians are sucking on fossil fuel's teats. It's too bad you are willing to destroy the environment because they have convinced you it will save you some pocket change. The only scientists who deny global warming are the ones the big energy companies and stock barons have paid to spew these lies. When your kids and grand kids are wheezing with asthma and your family has a cancer rate equal to Chernobyl maybe you will care. Unless, of course, someone waves a dollar under your nose, then you would probably keep selling them out. Just because vampires are popular with the teenagers these days doesn't mean it's okay to be one. Get your dirty energy teeth out of North Carolina's neck.

Thanks For The Enlightenment

Of course its a big conspiracy from big corporations (of course, meaning evil corporations like oil companies who just want to make money for themselves, and not nice corporations like Solyndra who get stupid well meaning people to enrich them before THEY take the money and run).
And FOX must be lying, because it doesn't repeat the same stuff MSNBC, CNN, and the other major networks are parroting from the Ovomit Administration, right? Boy, talk about gullible.
You're right though, the "global warming" debate is all fueled by greed.
Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.
Solyndra, that California business, received a $535 million loan guarantee from the government before going bankrupt last September. Its top executives were enthusiastic Obama campaign donors. Solyndra had also spent nearly $1.8 million lobbying the government prior to receiving the loan guarantee.
Even liberal media sources have reported that Al Gore stands to personally benefit to the tune of millions of dollars if the federal government implements his preferred policies on carbon trading and regulating emissions. When Gore began his political rise and Occidental Petroleum was a key contributor. Hmmm.
As of Dec 2009, the European Commission's appropriation for climate research came to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA's climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA's, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.
And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.
And you think the government is pushing green because they care about you, and are protecting you, rather than to fatten the wallets of slobs like Al Gore and George Soros (who ride the green wave to riches, sharing the green they make off "green" through campaign contributions to their bought and sold pals in legislature).
Talk about buying into socialist brainwashing. "Ooh, Exxon would bleed me dry, if they could!"

ALEC

I keep myself pretty well informed, but I had never heard of ALEC until today. I do know about the renewable energy mandate, and I have thought it to be a terrible idea from the beginning. You don't have to be an ALEC supporter to know that mandating expensive and unreliable power sources is a recipe for higher electricity bills and an unstable power grid. If we had let solar and wind actually compete in the marketplace, they would have been kept out until they could prove themselves to be cheaper and more reliable. They may never be able to do that. But liberals can't accept the notion that the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow. And when they don't, you still have to have coal, nuclear, or natural gas power as back-up (which means you are building twice as many power plants). How does that save money or resources?

Thanks for this Great

Thanks for this

Great reporting.

These people must not be allowed to operate in the shadows while they collude to undermine a cleaner energy future.

More Liberal lies.

Here we go again. There has been no global warming since 1996 and yet the Global Warming Enthusiests (a.k.a modern McCarthyism) still push forward with their schemes. Everyone knows that Duke is feeding at the subsidy trough, while building power solutions that will not replace what they are planning on shutting down. This will drive up energy costs, and reduce power production. We will soon have rolling brown outs like California. The evidence is there for what will happen it has already happened in other places. The left keeps pushing the agenda, because it is profiting the Big Greens like Al Gore, who has made millions if not billions on this B.S..

Global Warming

It is a hoax, it's wealth distribution. Did your Marxist professors forget to tell yoy that. Go look up the emerald city scam that so many Dims were trying to set up.

WhatRUCrazy

I'm addressing the person who posted as "anonymous" the above comment praising the fools who want to end N.C. commitment to renewable,safe fuel. You think coal & natural gas are gonna last forever? You think fracking isn't gonna pollute your water? It's fools like you that can't think for themselves that are gonna cost our children & their children their future. Fool!

renewable energy

Now,now. No need for name calling. Don't you think open, free markets can best determine which sources of energy are used in North Carolina? Seems to me, noting past experiences, that relying on politicians spending other peoples money to determine our future energy needs will more likely lead to failure than anything else.

Right on

It's about time we had some sense on energy legislation. These sponsers are good conservative business minded people. Their leadership will bring growth and jobs.

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