Civitas Review

"Green" Apple Solar Farm in NC Installs Diesel Generators

May
04

Paul Chesser of the National and Legal Foundation reports how Apple's Maiden, NC solar farm – built adjacent to its server facility – requires 44 diesel generators for back-up power.

While Apple Inc. continues its laughable claim that its data centers are run “100-percent” on renewable energy – highlighted by a solar farm built adjacent to its server facility in Maiden, N.C. – public records show the company has received permits to install 44 pollutant-spewing diesel generators for back-up power.

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The diesel generators for the western North Carolina data center are the normal redundancy you’d expect a power-dependent corporation to install to insure continual service (such as cloud computing and iTunes) for customers. But even though the back-ups will run for only a few hours a year (unless there’s a catastrophe), the fact that they’re fossil-fueled highlights how next-to-useless the “green” alternatives are. After all, have you heard of solar- or wind-powered backup generators?

We're told how environmentally friendly solar power is, but how allegedly "green" is an energy source that requires diesel generators for times when the sun isn't shining? Nevermind the toxic chemicals in the solar panels themselves, or the wildly expensive fuel cells needed for still more back-up power that help Al Gore laugh all the way to the bank.

Recall that state and local governments showered Apple with a package of taxpayer handouts and targeted tax breaks valued at $320 million to bring their server farm to NC.

Solar energy is a government-created creature littered with corrupt cronyism of the worst kind that enriches a few elitists closest to the levers of power at the expense of taxpayers and higher utility bills.

House Approves Amendment Striking a Blow Against Big Solar Cronies

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Apr
30

Late last night the NC House approved an amendment to an otherwise little-discussed regulatory reform bill. The amendment would cap the state's renewable energy portfolio standard and eliminate the 80% property tax break received by solar farms and facilities.

WRAL has a recap here.

The 2007 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, or REPS, law requires utilities in the state to buy an increasing percentage of renewable power, such as solar or biomass, over time. They were required to buy 3 percent renewable as of 2012, 6 percent in 2015, 10 percent by 2018 and 12.5 percent by 2021. Under changes made later, utilities could claim energy-efficiency savings for up to a quarter of that requirement.

The proposal introduced Wednesday night as an amendment to House Bill 760, a regulatory reform measure, would cap the REPS requirement at 6 percent permanently……The measure would also repeal an 80 percent property tax break that solar farms and facilities currently receive. It would cap the rider utilities could charge ratepayers for their REPS compliance at current levels.

The amendment, introduced by Reps. Mike Hagar and Charles Jeter passed easily by a 97-19 vote. The amendment would also establish a committee to further study the state's renewable portfolio standard  and "any other matter related to the long term energy needs of the State" the Committee deems appropriate to study.

Make no mistake, this is a big blow to the Big Solar crony special interests in NC. Without a government-mandated buyer, and without massive tax carve-outs and credits, the solar industry will shatter. It is a completely crony government created industry – forcibly subsidized by ratepayers and taxpayers. Civitas has recently examined the power players and money behind the solar cronies in NC here and here.   So called "green" energy is more rightly called "greed" energy; as it is a byproduct of big government and big business in bed together enriching themselves at our expense.

And then, there were four

Apr
29

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Last week Tennessee joined Florida, Mississippi and Arizona as states that have approved Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) ESAs  put parents in control over their child's education by giving parents control over how money is spent on education needs. The Tennessee bill, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam last week, allows students to pursue alternative educational avenues and allows parents to use funds for designated educational purposes.  Congratulations to all those in Tennessee who helped to make this a reality.

Education Savings Accounts are an important tool for expanding educational opportunity and the wave of the future. I’m not the only one who thinks so (See here).  Earlier this month Rep. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham) introduced HB 916 in the North Carolina General Assembly. The bill – which enjoys strong bipartisan support — would create personal learning scholarships for special needs students.

We expect to hear more about ESAs and HB 916 in the coming weeks!

NC Commerce Bureaucrats Demand More Corporate Bribe Money

Apr
28

WRAL reports that NC Commerce (current and former) continue to wring their hands about the slow progress of extending and expanding the state's program to bribe companies to locate in NC.

After last year's measure to extend it stalled, McCrory said in January that he wanted quick action from the legislature to restore the Job Development Investment Grant program "in literally a matter of weeks."   

Past Commerce officials – even those who served under McCrory's Democratic predecessors – are noting similar concerns over the delay.

Are Solar Lobbyists in NC Trying to Hide Their Money Trail?

Apr
27

Last week, Civitas published Part I in a series of articles exposing the "Big Solar" power players in NC behind the push for crony policies favoring solar energy.

Friday Civitas published Part II. This article examines the financial reports of a very active political action committee pushing for legislative favors for the solar industry, and finds some disturbing discrepancies.

Since political committees in North Carolina are required to report at regular intervals each year, we went directly to the NCCEBA PAC’s financial reports on the State Board of Elections website.   

What we found was disturbing.

The first red flag was that, without evidence or prompting, on April 2, 2015, NCCEBA PAC amended all but their first finance disclosure reports from the last 2 years – that first report appeared to be amended in August 2013.

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It is feasible that no one will ever know exactly what the PAC did with all of its money or exactly how much money actually flowed through the PAC and was contributed to campaign committees.  However, one conclusion can be drawn. It is impossible to believe that professional consultants and lobbyists don’t have the capacity to keep an accurate account of checks in and out or that they are incapable of adding and subtracting.

If incompetence is ruled out, it leaves only one explanation: The reports and amendments are meant to conceal what was going on.

To read the entire article, click here.

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