North Carolina Renewable Energy Standard Fight in 2013:
In North Carolina in 2013, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member and State Representative Mike Hager was the chief sponsor of a bill attacking the state’s RES. He was joined by at least seven other ALEC members in sponsoring the bill.
Hager’s bill started as a full repeal, but amendments turned it into a RES-weakening bill by freezing RES targets, repealing the solar carve-out, which sets aside part of the standard for solar energy, and allowing existing hydro and energy efficiency to qualify for the renewable energy standard.
Rep. Hager’s bill, HB 298, was voted down 18-13 in the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy, which he chairs, in a show of bipartisan support for the clean energy law.
Concurrently, the Senate companion bill, SB 365, stalled in another committee after Senator Bill Rabon, the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, forced the ALEC-backed bill through the Finance Committee without a vote count. Over the protests of dissenting Senators calling for a vote count, Rabon declared that the bill had passed and adjourned the committee.
Rep. Hager promised more attempts to undo RES. He is now appealing to Governor Pat McCrory’s Blue Ribbon Study Commission to alter the renewable energy standard.
Koch Industries-funded Americans for Prosperity spearheaded a letter signed by 16 anti-clean energy groups, many of whom receive funding from fossil fuel interests targeting North Carolina legislators.
The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) published a flawed report with the John Locke Foundation attacking the North Carolina RES.
Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform also penned an op-ed in Politico that specifically focused on North Carolina and repeated the same flawed economic data from BHI.
North Carolina Net Metering Fight in 2014:
In a meeting with local reporters in January 2014, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said the utility will push for “reducing how much North Carolina households are paid for generating electricity from solar panels.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently released a model resolution calling for the weakening of solar net metering policies that threaten the traditional utility industry business model. ALEC is one front group that the utility industry is using to push for changes to net metering policies—a valuable ally for the utilities to lobby state legislators from across the country. Duke Energy is a member of ALEC.
Good claimed that the company supports solar and wanted it to be a part of its portfolio. In reality, Duke Energy Carolinas generates approximately 57% of its electricity from coal and natural gas plants, another 26% from nuclear power plants, and only .04% from solar.
TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed) launched an advertisement highlighting Duke’s attacks on solar and emphasizing that Good was looking out for Duke’s stock price. The NC Sustainable Energy Association said, “Utilities are attacking net metering and rooftop solar to protect their bottom line and monopoly control, plain and simple.”
Duke Energy serves 3.2 million people in the state of North Carolina, with only 1,300 private homes currently using the net metering policy. As the price of solar continues to drop, more people will install solar and become electricity generators— by gutting the net metering policy now, Duke would hinder the adoption of more solar energy and maintain control of electricity generation in the state.
As of this report’s publication, the North Carolina Utilities Commission is investigating the value of solar to determine the costs of integrating solar into the grid.