HB589 quietly made its way out of a Senate committee. It’s interesting, to say the least, that we are not provided a a vote margin or roll call on the measure.
Here are some insights on the current version in the Senate from an insider who has been following the solar issue closely:
1 – the four year Wind Energy Moratorium (to do a military study) is a VERY good addition.2 – the fact that the Wind Energy Moratorium study is still only about the military impacts, is a grievous (and maybe fatal) mistake. All of the key legislators had received a detailed explanation about why including other wind energy impacts in the study (e.g. economic benefits, human health, property value) would be extremely beneficial. Despite being so informed, for some reason so far they have not expanded the Moratorium study.3 –None of the other problematic parts in H589 were removed. The most disconcerting and unacceptable part is the Solar Mandate (PART II. § 62-110.8). Yes it was reduced from 2660 MW to 2200 MW — but zero is the only sensible mandate. IMO as good as the Wind Moratorium is, accepting any kind of energy mandate is completely unacceptable.4 – In the same vein, the Solar Rebate program (Part VIII) is inappropriate and unacceptable. If solar does not make economic sense on its own, it is totally wrong to force taxpayers (or other ratepayers) to subsidize it.5 – It’s good that H589 has a section on solar decommissioning (Part IX). Of course this is needed as there are zero statewide solar-specific rules in NC. The more appropriate approach is to have a separate bill that addresses all of the solar rules and regulations that are needed (e.g. property value guarantee). Instead, the state legislators are throwing this technical matter into the laps of unprepared local county commissioners.6 – Another seemingly innocuous detail that I’ve been told is very problematic, is the date in Part I, Section 1.(c). By changing the second Sep. 10, 2018 to Sep.10, 2017, there would be substantial savings to ratepayers over the next 15 years. Of course 99.9% of the public, and our legislators, have little understanding of the implications for such matters — which was well known by the lobbyists who wrote H589.
Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants.• If solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (52 meters/172 feet), while the solar waste would reach the height of two Mt. Everests (16 km/10 miles).
• In countries like China, India, and Ghana, communities living near e-waste dumps often burn the waste in order to salvage the valuable copper wires for resale. Since this process requires burning off the plastic, the resulting smoke contains toxic fumes that are carcinogenic and teratogenic (birth defect-causing) when inhaled.
The deployment of solar has increased significantly in recent years in response to government subsidies and mandates. Global installed capacity more than doubled between 2012 and 2015.
In 2016, solar provided 1.3% of the world’s electricity, with 301 GW installed. Nuclear reactors provided 10% of the world’s electricity in the same year.
A recent report found that it would take 19 years for Toshiba Environmental Solutions to finish recycling all of the solar waste Japan produced by 2020. By 2034, the annual waste production will be 70 – 80 times larger than that of 2020.
We’re the only southeastern state with alternative energy mandates — and we’ve got solar panels sprouting everywhere like weeds from Murphy to Manteo.
Crooked politicians are fattening their wallets. But we’re picking up the bill for all of this. And our children and grandchildren will deal with the environmental and economic fallout for years to come.