“Conservative” divisions and outside influence culminate in renewable energy debate

The divisions and internal battles of the NCGOP in the House are alive and well, evidenced in the high profile fight over the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard.

First, we were to believe Rep. Mike Hager was introducing the repeal of the renewable energy portfolio standard “RPS” for his former employer, Duke Energy, who had once contributed generously to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where a committee of donors endorsed “model legislation” to shop around the country and find states where the legislation could be passed. Not unlike the other “corporate bills” milled and moved from ALEC to States in attempt to model legislation nationally and achieve at the state level what they cannot at the federal level.

But, Duke Energy dropped out of the ranks the ALEC committee and when asked to speak on their view of this “new” bill, decidedly dodged the question. The fact is, Duke Energy, along with other utilities participated in a consensus group on this issue in 2007, where the timeline, standards and percentage were agreed to in principle. Also, Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke, is very much on the record supporting renewable energy and working the issue in many states where Duke Energy serves residential and commercial customers. Then, along came the new Google investment in North Carolina and the Google requests for renewable energy from Duke Energy.

Americans for Prosperity, ALEC and John Locke Foundation have been pushing this issue with a “special” campaign. They want us to believe Hager’s bill is a compromise, when the compromise took place in 2007 and there is no reason to re-visit it again. They want us to buy into a “study committee” where we all know good ideas go to die. They also want us to believe one side of their moving mouths that this subsidy is breaking the bank on your electric bill. But when you ask them about the legions of subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels, including Yucca Mountain, that consumers have paid and continue to pay, they shrug their shoulders. That’s not their fight because no one from the renewable energy sector is funding them to fight those subsidies while the big oil interests are funding this fight against renewable energy.

A subsidy is a subsidy. Arguing against one that has been in effect for barely six years while others have been in place for 100 years is laughable as a real economic argument. Arguing the costs based on six years versus costs based on 100 years is more ridiculous. Some of them argue “symbolism” saying there are non-quantifiable benefits and tying the renewable initiative to President Obama based on some DOE projects in the stimulus bill. But they will shake their heads and ignore that their conservative poster child, former President George Bush, supported a Texas RPS, even as an “oil man.”

Folks, you are plain and simple disingenuous as you seek to cover the interests pushing you to fight this reasonable attempt at economic innovation, the very reason for economic subsidies.Never has there been a more blatant display of corporate interest money “protecting its bounty” than this one.

So now, ALEC is flexing its wallet and conservative muscle at six Republicans who bucked Hager’s bill (signed onto by big ALEC Republicans), dropping it in his own committee and shocking him in the process. Enter the threats “but conservative lawmakers are supposed to know better.” Apparently some Republican lawmakers do know better. They know this is a Hager attempt at being the next Speaker so more reasonable Republicans are flexing their muscle that it will not happen. It is not often a Chair of a Committee brings a bill he/she cannot move as favorable and even less often that the move is repeated.

Inside the Republican caucus, as Democrats try to unite and organize, there are serious factions focused on the power of Speaker. Some report as few as five and others say there may be as many as ten. This battle is not about economic subsidies, good public policy or even governing. It is about a power struggle for the factions gearing up for Speaker.


Jeanne Milliken Bonds is a PR Consultant, Political Analyst, NC Spin Commentator and host of Plain Talk Politics.

Cross-Post: NC Spin


About jeannemillikenbonds

Former Mayor, Former Special Assistant to NC Chief Justice. PR Consultant, Government Relations Professional, Commentator, Political Analyst Passionate about all things NC, especially politics.
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