Posted by Brendan Fischer on April 24, 2013

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) suffered a big defeat in North Carolina today when a bipartisan group of legislators killed a bill to repeal the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require utilities provide a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources. ALEC typically operates in the dark but has expressed rare public support for the North Carolina effort.

North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to pass renewable energy standards, but with the Senate, Assembly, and Governor's offices under Republican control for the first time in more than 100 years, ALEC and its allies made a concerted effort to make the state the first to repeal those standards using the ALEC "model" Electricity Freedom Act.

Top 10 Solar States Countdown - North CarolinaOn April 19, ALEC's Energy & Environment Task Force Director Todd Wynn published a blog post on ALEC's "American Legislator" website criticizing North Carolina's renewable standards as an attack on "freedom." Earlier in April the Heartland Institute, which brought the Electricity Freedom Act to ALEC, promoted North Carolina's repeal effort on its website and penned an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer. The North Carolina-based John Locke Foundation released a discredited study, along with the Beacon Hill Institute, purporting to show the impact of renewable standards on the state. All of the groups receive funding from fossil fuel-connected interests like the Kochs, and are associated with the State Policy Network, an umbrella group of right-wing organizations. Even Grover Norquist, whose Americans for Tax Reform has received significant funding from fossil fuel interests, jumped into the fray and tried to convince North Carolina legislators to pass a repeal bill.

Those efforts failed.

The bill's sponsor, ALEC member and former Duke Energy employee Rep. Mike Hager, could not get the bill through the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy, which he chairs.

It was defeated on a bipartisan 18-13 vote.

The defeat might be chalked up to basic economics. The state's Renewable Portfolio Standards have helped generate $3.7 billion in economic activity in 2012 and contributed to the current 15,200 clean energy jobs in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, all while reducing pollution. And the bill is about more than just wind and solar. Prestage Farms, a turkey and pork processor, has plans to build an innovative waste-to-energy plant that produces energy while reducing waste.

Rep. Hager or other ALEC North Carolina members may still try other methods to limit renewable standards before the end of the session, and other pieces of the ALEC agenda will likely find success in the GOP-controlled legislature. But Wednesday's vote is nonetheless a defeat for an ALEC priority issue.

Last week, Kansas -- the home of Koch Industries -- defeated a similar renewable energy repeal bill, likely because the renewable industry is also a major job creator in the state. Legislation that resembles the ALEC Electricity Freedom Act is currently under consideration in Ohio. It remains to be seen whether lawmakers in that state will side with ALEC and fossil fuel interests or jobs and clean energy. Stay tuned.

Brendan Fischer

Brendan Fischer is CMD's General Counsel. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Comments

It is time for all the legislative cowards who hide behind the skirts of ALEC, and ALEC herself to stop all the underhanded, cloak and dagger maneuverings. They are slowly, but surely ruining our country and we voters sit by idly and let it happen. We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge of what our elected officials are doing behind closed doors.

Our freedoms are being eroded away at a steady pace. We'd better shut down this kind of cowardly behavior where they sneak in and sneak out of secret legislative meetings and go back to their representative bodies and pass screw-ball legislation that only benefits the wealthiest 1% or so in the nation.

I call ALEC and all her members the truest examples of what it is to be un-American, unpatriotic, disloyal, treasonous! That goes for all states' legislators who belong and all the corporate entities, as well.

Did you know that ALEC bills itself off as a not for profit group, and claims to "educate" their (politician) members about legislation and issues. They hold these "educational" meetings a posh resort locations, and foot the bill. They even provide sample legislation for their members. ALEC is funded by very large $-corporations-$ who enjoy the benefits of these seminars ... and all of the money that they feed ALEC comes right back to them in $-big-$ tax savings and extremely "liberal" legislation passed by not so liberal right-wingers.4me49