For Immediate Release
April 3, 2013
H 298 Clears Its First Hurdle, Business and Public Interests Take a Backseat
Bill Would Discourage Private Investment in Clean Energy Sector
Raleigh - Earlier today, a revised version of HB 298, the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act,” was approved by a close 11-10 vote in the Commerce and Job Development Subcommittee on Energy and Emerging Markets.
The vote followed an unusual two-hour hearing in which members heard from a steady stream of clean energy business leaders, economic developers, rural interests, energy experts and farming interests about the importance of the state’s renewable energy standard to the current and future success of their industry. Proponents of the bill were limited to representatives of Civitas and Americans for Prosperity.
“Today, by a one-vote margin, a divided House subcommittee turned its back on hundreds of small business owners and thousands of jobs,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club. “Today’s vote was a triumph of right wing ideology over investment in our economy, environment and positioning our state for future prosperity.”
A recent analysis shows that North Carolina’s clean energy policies, including the REPS have kept electricity rates from rising as much as they would without them.
Despite claims that the REPS has significantly raised utility customers’ rates, the REPS includes provisions that cap consumer costs well below the numbers cited in the committee today; in fact, utilities may currently only charge residential customers up to $12 per year for the REPS, and customers are currently being charged about half that. A recent Duke Energy filing with the NC Utilities Commission indicates that there will be no charge for renewable energy to residential customers in the coming year.
“The assault on the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is being characterized as an attempt to ‘stop playing favorites,’” said Diggins. “But fossil fuel industries have enjoyed much greater incentives for many years. The REPS was enacted as a way to help level the playing field, and to expand the use of clean, locally-produced energy. At a time when solar and other renewables are becoming increasingly cost competitive, it doesn’t make sense to pull the rug out from under a policy that has helped make that happen.”
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