-- by Connor Gibson, Greenpeace
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 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) politicians and member companies.
North Carolina state Representative Mike Hager says he is confident that he has the votes needed to weaken or undo his state's renewable energy requirements. Rep. Hager is a former Duke Energy engineer and a member of ALEC. Duke and Progress Energy (now legally merged) have given Rep. Hager $14,500 for his last two election bids, outspent only by the North Carolina Republican Party.
This is where ALEC makes things awkward for Duke Energy: the renewable energy law that Rep. Hager is targeting (2007 SB3) was created with input from Duke Energy, and Duke explicitly opposes ALEC's "Electricity Freedom Act," the groups new model law to repeal state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS). Duke Energy re-asserted its support for North Carolina's REPS standards to the Charlotte Business Journal last April and Progress Energy publicly supported the law before merging with Duke.
Apparently, Duke forgot about supporting North Carolina's clean energy incentives somewhere along the way. Duke and outgoing CEO Jim Rogers recently dismissed over 150,000 concerned citizens demanding that Duke leave ALEC due to its role in controversial voter suppression and gun legislation. Duke remains a dues-paying member of ALEC and participates in its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.
ALEC: The Polluter's Voice
ALEC's agenda includes rolling back protections on our health, our clean air and water, public safety, public education -- public anything, really. State legislators pay a small fee to become ALEC members, working alongside giant companies to create "models bills" that are then introduced in states across the country, with no disclosure of their ALEC origins.
As CMD previously reported, ALEC's Electricity Freedom Act model bill was written by the Heartland Institute, a group made infamous for comparing those who recognize climate scientists to terrorists like the "Unabomber," Ted Kaczynski. The bill call would repeal state target goals for renewable, clean energy.
This dirty ambition is ALEC's self-stated priority on energy issues this year. Todd Wynn, a corporate influence peddler who heads ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, named North Carolina as one of several states ALEC will focus its clean energy attacks, citing a debunked report from the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University's economics department. Like ALEC, Beacon Hill is part of the Koch-funded State Policy Network. See the Morning Sentinel and a scathing Portland Press Herald editorial for important critiques of the Beacon Hill reports cited by Todd Wynn.
Actually...Clean Energy has Treated North Carolina's Economy Well!
We've known for decades that phasing out fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) and ambitiously implementing clean energy not only slows our sprint toward irreversible, catastrophic climate change, but stimulates the economy and creates jobs that do not poison us. In North Carolina, SB3 has helped create the current 15,200 full-time equivalent clean energy jobs, up three percent from the previous year, and generated $3.7 billion in economic activity in 2012 (North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association 2012 Industry Census).
While ALEC has touted a pile of reports written with the pre-determined conclusion that clean energy is ALWAYS too pricey, the Charlotte Business Journal reports that SB3 has a "negligible impact on customer bill increases" for Progress Energy Carolinas' customers, at about 41 cents per month.
If it survives, North Carolina's SB3 would ensure at least three percent of the state's energy is from renewable sources this year, increasing to at least 12.5 percent by 2021.
What Next for the ALEC Attacks?
North Carolina appears to be one of the first states subjected to ALEC's dirty energy agenda this year. Expect similar ALEC attacks on clean energy laws in states around the country. According to its own documents, ALEC spent the last couple years monitoring states attempting to introduce state-level renewable energy portfolio standards in West Virginia, Vermont and Virginia as well as legislative attacks on REPS laws in New Hampshire and in Ohio.
It appears that ALEC has morphed from an opportunistic observer to the coordinator of attacks on our states' clean energy laws.
For more on how the American Legislative Exchange Council is degrading public policies across the United States, see ALECExposed.org.