#ncga: Solar regs debate has GOP chattering

Ms. Leslie, Binky’s boss over at WRAL, decided to go out and do a little of that reportin’ thing: 

[…] The solar industry has blossomed in North Carolina 14771577-1436831790-640x360since lawmakers granted solar farms tax breaks nine years ago as part of renewable energy standards that require utilities to get a portion of their power from renewable sources.

North Carolina ranks fourth nationally in solar energy capacity, and the industry employs about 5,600 people in the state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL, operates a solar farm near Garner.

Now, critics of solar are trying to rein in the industry by rewriting state laws, and the head of the state Department of Environmental Quality is leading the charge, pushing the state Energy Policy Council to recommend some major changes.

One proposal discussed Wednesday would require a state permit for any new solar farm. That would give the state the final say on whether a property owner can lease his or her land for solar. It would also require a bond for eventual removal of the equipment.

“We are a huge solar state, and we have to put our big boy pants on and treat it as such,” Secretary of Environmental Quality Donald van der Vaart told the Energy Policy Council.[…]

What is it with these Raleigh types and ‘big boy pants’?  Folks in the House and Senate have been trying to kill off a state energy mandate that jacks up bills for countless utility customers across the state, as well as end state subsidies for solar energy projects.  These efforts have been bogged down in the Senate mainly by Republicans Andy Wells, Brent Jackson, and Jerry Tillman — who have all  been showered with cash from solar industry lobbyists. 

Wells has been quite vocal recently about his displeasure with solar opponents and the proposed state regulations.   Recently he got into an email discussion / debate with, among others, state Rep. Chris Millis:

On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 2:01 PM, Andy Wells wrote:

It’s an old story that repeats itself throughout history – a flamboyant leaderAndyWellsColor_250 exhorts a suffering people to join his crusade to overthrow a ruthless dictator and win their freedom. But then, as soon as the revolution is over, it turns out the new leader is not what he seemed. He wanted power for himself, not freedom for the people.

For years conservatives, standing for two fundamental principles, have battled tax incentives that favor one business over others. We have argued those incentives are examples of government interfering with the free market and ‘picking winners and losers.’

Along the way, additional political leaders (and their allied political groups) joined in, using almost precisely the same arguments while specifically criticizing the state incentives for solar energy.

For a while, it sounded like we were all allies in the conservative cause.

But then, everything changed. After the solar incentives were eliminated, the second group dropped the cloak of standing up for free markets and, contrary to conservative principles, set out to use government to tilt the market to suit its purposes.

How? By proposing to pass a law that said no farmer could rent his land to a solar farm without the government’s permission. In other words, they want to use government to accomplish their goal of stopping solar energy.

That is not my idea of freedom. Or of protecting the free market. The government has no business getting into the business of telling a farmer how he can or cannot use his land.


For the record, this guy — with all his conservative sounding complaints — has voted FOR all of these incentives and the like. 

Now, here’s Millis:

On Feb 8, 2016, at 2:31 PM, Chris Millis wrote:

Andy, thanks for your commentary.

Please note that I personally, and legislatively, have no issue with any form of energy production (including solar within the so called “renewable” umbrella). What I do have issue with is being a citizen, a ratepayer, and legislator in a state that mandates and subsidizes specific forms of energy production such as solar.cm

My stance has always been simple: get state government out of the way, and do not force our taxpayers and energy ratepayers to subsidize special interests (like solar) through tax policies or statute…a lot like the free market you speak to…

With that said, I have been intimately involved legislatively to get state government away from mandating and subsidizing energy production (specifically renewable – since we has a state do not mandate or subsidize any other form).

In being apart of this effort I have yet to become aware of the “group” you mention in your email that “set out to use government to tilt the market to suit its purposes”. Just because I don’t know about it does not make it untrue but I would greatly appreciate more information as I would much like to be informed of such so I can renounce their efforts along with you. I must add that the problem is not the choice of the farmer, but the state government hand in mandating the production and subsidizing its development to distort the viability to the farmer in the first place.

Also, in being up to my eyebrows in legislation concerning this matter, I have never seen a provision floated in the General Assembly that would say “no farmer could rent his land to a solar farm without the government’s permission”. Any further information on this statement would be appreciated as well…

I have a great deal of respect for the principles you espouse but I would appreciate further information to avoid my current view of one beating up on a straw man to divert attention away from the real problem: the problem of North Carolina being the only state in the southeast that mandates and subsidizes forms of energy production chosen by the shallow wisdom of the political class.

Thanks again for your email and your time in providing further clarification. Have a great week and stay warm during the cold nights ahead.


10 thoughts on “#ncga: Solar regs debate has GOP chattering

  1. The solar incentives have”sunset”. Now a permitting process is being considered.

    Neither one was/is a very good example of the elusive free market.

    Can bad policy be fixed with bad policy?

    1. The Locke Foundation has revealed DOR figures showing that the ”sunset” of those solar subsidies, the so-called ”safe harbor” bill, will cost the taxpayers of North Carolina almost a billion dollars of extra subsidies for these leftwing parasites of the solar mafia. That is a billion dollars that could have been used for roads, schools, tax cuts, etc instead of corporate welfare for this ripoff ”industry”.

      Republicans who have prostituted themselves to the solar mafia like Wells, Tillman, and Jackson are despicable Obama Republicans who need to be removed from office. None of them got the primaries that they richly deserved, so one can only hope that there will be some conservative independents qualify to run against them in November. These conmen who get elected as Republicans but follow the Democrat platform instead of the Republican platform on green energy are phonies who need to go.

      These bonds for removal of both solar and wind ”farms” are badly needed. Solar panels contain toxic substances and it is absolutely irresponsible to not require funds be available to remove them when their useful life is over. They are also visual pollution – a hideous blight on the landscape. Do the solar parasites expect the taxpayers to remove them when they no longer work?

      What else has NC done to itself with renewable energy? It is more expensive energy and the more of it we produce, the more our electric rates will increase. Since the surrounding states are smart enough not to have gone down this stupid route, when industries look to relocate, their electric rates will be much more attractive than ours. We are screwing ourselves on job growth by going down this renewable energy dead end.

      1. Does Duke Energy expect ratepayers to pay for the removal of coal ash? Are transmission line towers, substations and coal plants not “visual pollution” loaded with “toxic substances”?

        Does the state have any business “permitting” solar arrays on private land?

        Do our leaders that lead the charge against renewables not have close ties to Duke Energy?

        1. In Duke Energy’s latest demand for a rate increase, they specifically cited the higher cost of renewable energy as a reason they needed the rate increase. We are fortunately not yet to the place Germany is where electricity has almost become a luxury due to the added cost of wind and solar. So that we do not get there, we need to remove all of the politicians who prostitute themselves to the wind and solar special interests from office.

          Duke Energy does not care whether they have these mandates or not. They just pass on the extra costs of renewable energy to the ratepayer. It is the ratepayers that should care about these politicians who are selling them down the river. Duke Energy plays along with this renewable energy farce in order to get some PR points with the environmental extremists.

          Shareholders, not ratepayers should pay for all of the coal ash issues. Ratepayers should also not get stuck with the higher costs of wind and solar energy, which impact our bills both directly and indirectly.

          The state has just as much interest in regulating a solar ”farm” or wind ”farm” as it does a hog farm. All three can be harmful to the citizens local environment.

  2. We should also salute Andy Wells, Jerry Tillman, and Brent Jackson in the Senate plus Nelson Dollar, David Lewis, Charles Jeter, and others in the House. They are all important NC supporters of one of President Obama’s key signature policies, green energy. They have stood by President Obama’s policy even when things go bad like with Solyndra. They are willing to back the Democratic platform on this issue over their own Republican platform. Whether they do this for love of the Polar Bears or merely for the love of the money our hard core environmental movement sends them really does not matter. The key thing is that they loyally vote for President Obama’s policies.

    Most importantly, these progressive Republicans are willing to throw their own constituents under the bus in order to support President Obama’s agenda. As President Obama has clearly stated his green energy policies will ”cause electric rates to necessarily skyrocket”. It is important environmental policy to greatly raise the cost of electricity to force consumers to use less of it. That will help save the Polar Bears. Getting more solar and wind energy on line is important to raising those electric bills. Who cares if the redneck peons won’t be able to afford air conditioning? Why should redneck peons have air conditioning in the first place?

    1. Duke Energy made $3billion in profit in 2014 How much did your rates go up and how is that Obama’s fault?

  3. Obama’s War on Affordable Energy has not yet really kicked into gear for the consumers yet. A big part is his EPA rules on power plants that will shut down coal fired electric generating plants, which is the cheapest form of electric production. While he is eliminating the most cost effective electricity, and one that uses a resource we have hundreds of years of supply of right here in America, he is also pushing for much more of the two most expensive sources – wind and solar. Obama will be out of office by the time consumers feel the real bite of what Obama is doing to us. Sadly, the media will probably try to blame President Cruz since it will hit when he is in office, but hopefully he will have reversed much of that by then.

    Wind and solar burdens the electric system even more since it is intermittent instead of dependable. It only produces power when the wind is blowing or sun is shining, and has to have backup capacity the rest of the time, and that backup adds much more to the cost of electricity. Relying on undependable intermittent sources of electricity is just pure stupidity.

  4. Well, the Magic Fairy Dust of “solar energy” has proven to be an unmitigated disaster.
    Solar Energy (like “The Electric Car”), cannot survive without massive government subsidies.
    The vaunted “wind farms” are killing thousands of migratory birds (including the endangered bald eagle). Where (oh where) is Greenpeace and the Audubon Society on this?
    Crickets chirping………….
    Thank God The Supreme Court put a stop to Obama’s “Climate Change” EPA rules.
    But after all, that’s one lie Obama DIDN’T tell: “Under my plan, electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket”.

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