The well-financed special interest lobbyists of Big Solar won again today, at the expense of everybody else.
House Bill 681, the NC Energy Ratepayers Protection Act, a bill that would have capped and sunset a state law forcing NC energy users to purchase more expensive and unreliable sources of "renewable" energy, was defeated in the House Public Utilities Committee.
A government mandate forcing utilities to provide a minimum percentage of its energy from so-called renewable energy sources – like solar – is corporate welfare plain and simple. Energy users across the state – from low-income apartments to big businesses – pay more for their energy in order to further enrich wealthy investors employing lobbyists to game the system in their favor. Low-income families are disproportionately hardest hit because they spend a larger share of their household income on energy bills.
Moreover, higher energy costs on business discourage investment and job creation, reducing the number of employment options – especially for those low-skilled, low-income people on the margins of employment.
Indeed, a recent study conducted by Strata Policy in conjunction with Utah State University’s Institute of Political Economy concluded that North Carolina’s renewables mandate has cost the state 24,000 jobs and $14.4 billion in personal income. Higher energy bills on commercial and industrial ratepayers discouraged investment and job creation, resulting in household income being roughly $3,900 lower by 2013 than it would have been absent the mandate.
The Committee voted against the Ratepayer Protection Act by a vote of 16-14. All 11 of the committee's Democrats rejected the bill, joined by five Republicans: Sam Watford (R-Davidson), Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Chris Malone (R-Wake), Kelly Hastings (R-Cleveland) and John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg).