#NCGA #NCSEN: Taking care of (HIS) Business?




According to official state records,  House Speaker (and US Senate candidate) Thom Tillis and his wife are “owners” of Cornelius, NC-based Aquesta Bank.  Tillis joined the state House in January 2007.  Aquesta was founded in 2007.

In 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a measure mandating that energy providers in the state provide a set percentage of their product from “renewable energy” sources.  Tillis was one of a number of Republicans who joined the majority Democrats in supporting that measure.

In January 2011, Thom Tillis was elected speaker of the state House.   In March, 2011, it hit the media that House leaders were attempting to kill a conservative-promoted measure to eliminate the state’s “renewable energy” mandate.  

In June 2011, we got this article:

Aquesta Bank is looking to make a line of business in lending for solar energy projects.

The four-year-old bank has always been enthusiastic about solar energy. It has solar panels installed at its Cornelius headquarters office on Jetton Road and its latest branch on Brawley School Road.

But now it intends to be a lender for solar projects. Its first project is $3 million of construction and permanent financing for the nearly 1 megawatt Avery Solar project that O2 Energies Inc. is building on 6 acres near Newland. The $5 million solar project is on a Christmas tree farm in Avery County.

Aquesta CEO Jim Engel says he has assigned Brian Kiser, one of seven loan officers at the bank, to be the solar business expert.

“He has to learn the ins and outs of renewable-energy credits and know what legislation is brewing, all of those things,” Engel says. “To be a sound lender, you have to know the business you are lending into.”

Relatively few U.S. banks are involved in solar and renewable-project lending. Bank of America Corp. will be a financing partner in a $2.6 billion venture announced this week withPrologis and NRG Energy. But foreign banks are well ahead of their U.S. counterparts in solar-energy lending.

Engel says that is part of why he sees the solar space as an opportunity for his bank. There is a growing cadre of solar developers in the region, he says, and that creates possibilities for a relationship-oriented bank such as his.

With the loan payments backed by long-term power-purchase agreements — usually with highly stable utilities — the business looks stronger than commercial real estate lending in the current weak real estate market.

In the Avery deal, for instance, the permanent financing will have a 10-year term. O2 has an agreement for the Tennessee Valley Authority to buy the full power production of the project for 10 years.

“Once a project is built, there is relatively little risk in repayment,” Engel says. “That’s why it is important to know the developer and to be sure the developer has skin in the game in terms of his own investment.”

Joel Olsen, founder of O2 Energies, says community banks in Germany led the lending industry into financing for solar, and the same could happen in the United States.

Let’s see if I have this straight.  A bank OWNED by the House speaker and his wife is making a big deal out of investing in solar energy projects.  The speaker votes to implement renewable energy mandates AND leads an effort to kill a repeal of those energy mandates — which, if successful, could have led to a drop in energy delivery costs.

 The state mandate codifies a demand for “renewable energy” production.  A bank OWNED by the speaker and his wife is making investment in renewable energy a key element of its business strategy.  Hmmmm …

11 thoughts on “#NCGA #NCSEN: Taking care of (HIS) Business?

  1. This is thoroughgoing corruption by Tillis. He should be removed as Speaker and voted down as GOP nominee for US Senate. The sooner we get the Tillis stench off of the Republican brand, the better.

    I would also bet that the Big Media establishment will sit on this scandal, hoping Tillis gets the nomination so that they can reelect their sweetheart Kay Hagan, That leaves GOP activists to confront Tillis with this scandal in the primary.

    But things like this should be expected from someone who had Richard Morgan and Jim Black as his mentors.

  2. What a shame! I wish Tillis and his wife would have done more homework and know that renewable energy is a ripoff, gee I wonder why we haven’t heard more progress on fracking? or drilling off-shore lately? and then NC Govt. can use the revenue from fracking/off-shore drilling to fix the roads and/or cut the gas tax so it’s competitive with SC, TN and VA.

  3. One issue not mentioned is the cost of produced but not delivered electricity created by those mandates. Here in NC, small electric co-ops are required to acquire or generate that same percentage of electricity sold from alternative sources as the big companies are. There is rarely any grid connectivity between that producer and the co-op’s distribution system, so they wind up paying those “alternative” source producers for a product they never receive and pass that cost along to the consumers who never consume it. It is the most creative way ever imagined to get the average person to subsidize alternative energy, usually without them even knowing they are doing so. My co-op here in NC sends roughly $1,000,000 a year to a wind farm in Nebraska just to comply with the mandates, both state and federal. We get nothing from it but a higher electric bill, and the producer gets a 7-figure windfall. Stay tuned folks. There is a lot more to this story than is told here.

  4. The statement that Speaker Tillis owns a bank is very misleading. In fact they own a very small percentage of outstanding shares. I was the Shareholder Services Director at the time and know the circumstances around their purchase. They did not even buy enough shares to be considered Founders. Check the plaque in the lobby. Aquesta had not identified a location for its headquarters nor the architect at the time of their purchase. I have been friends of Thom and Susan for years and wish the media would present the facts. Your next post should give the percentage of ownership. This would become a frivolous claim. I own shares of Exxon but that doesn’t mean I own a petroleum company………..

    1. Please refer to page “4 of 10” of THIS PDF: http://www.carolinatransparency.com/sei/2010/244.pdf

      This is a form the speaker signed and submitted to the state ethics commission. On that page, he identifies himself and his wife as OWNERS of Aquesta Bank. I am merely taking his word for it. If he exaggerated on the form, or provided incorrect information, that would be a matter he would need to address with the ethics commission.

      Investing in a business is not a problem. Getting rich is not a problem. Investing in a business, then using the powers of your elected office to enrich yourself IS.

      1. Here is an idea, why don’t you read the form. The instructions clearly indicate that “owner”means having an ownership interest. Even the slightest research shows Aquesta has 2,562,000 shares (see their website or FDIC website for complete financials) outstanding and Thom (according to the form you posted) owns about 5,000 of those shares or less than .5 percent ( not 5 percent but point 5 percent). He is not an officer, he is not on the board of directors, he is not even on their advisory board. I have more say over Google than Thom has over this…and that means zero control. Try slinging different mud.

    2. When Tilli$ and his bankers buddies had a financial interest in that piece of legislation, the honest thing for Tilli$ to do would be to not get involved. Instead, he maneuvered to kill the bill, including assigning it to multiple committees which is not the normal practice. That is Tammany Hall style politics – or Chicago style politics – and it does not belong in North Carolina.

      This is North Carolina’s Solyndra – a green boondoggle citizen ripoff to benefit the politically connected players at the expense of the citizens. Wind and solar energy is much more expensive than that from coal fired or gas fired plants. When power companies are forced by the state to buy it, they just pass that extra cost on to electric customers in the form of higher rates. It is those electric ratepayers who have to pay the freight for this green boondoggle. European countries that have gone much farther in than North Carolina on ”renewable energy”, are seeing electric rates twice what ours are. In a struggling economy can hardpressed citizens afford that just to make bankers and bank owners rich? Certainly not!

      Put another way, when it comes to green boondoggles, Tilli$ is North Carolina’s Obama.

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