#NCSEN: A sock puppet fight over climate change

spfightUS Senator Kay Hagan (D- NC  NY) — affectionately known in many of these parts as Chuck Schumer’s Sock Puppet™– lashed out at GOP nominee Thom Tillis — recently promoted to the position of Karl Rove’s Sock Puppet™  — as being bad for the environment:

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan blasted her Republican rival’s environmental record in a speech Tuesday evening, saying North Carolina needs “a senator who believes climate change exists.”

But in an interview afterward, Hagan took a more careful approach to describe where she stands on energy issues, straddling a line that may frustrate environmentalists.

“We have to have a big energy policy,” she said, acknowledging she supports fracking and offshore drilling, if done a certain way.

Her climate change remark – a big applause line in her speech – referenced Thom Tillis’ response in the first GOP primary debate in April in which he said he does not believe climate change is a fact.

“Unlike my opponent who flatly denied the existence of climate change, I know the EPA’s ability to responsibly regulate greenhouse gas emissions is key to protecting our environment for future generations,” Hagan told more than 200 people gathered in Raleigh for a N.C. League of Conservation Voters awards dinner. […]

haganWe think Madam is being a wee bit hard on Mr. Rove’s friend.  After all, Tillis enthusiastically supported “alternative energy mandates” when they passed the NC House in 2007.

Lefty groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists see alternative / renewable energy as the “dominant climate change solution.”  

Carolina Journal went after the North Carolina energy mandate pretty hard: 

Before there was ObamaCare, North Carolina had its own individual mandate. In 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly mandated that electricity customers buy electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

The law requiring this mandate, known as Senate Bill 3, in some ways is even worse than mandating the purchase of health care. At least with the ObamaCare mandate, you actually will receive health insurance.

Under S.B. 3’s energy mandate, North Carolinians will be paying, in part, to receive nothing in return. Since utility companies can buy nearly half of the required renewable energy from outside the state, North Carolinians will be paying an energy tax to subsidize electricity for people in California and other states, but won’t actually receive the electricity themselves.tillis listen

S.B. 3 is a mandate benefiting the solar and wind industries, not North Carolinians, as can be seen by the requirement to subsidize out-of-state renewable energy companies.

S.B. 3 also is a mandate imposed on North Carolina that harms its already weak economy. Since renewable energy sources are so much more expensive than other sources of electricity, electricity prices are driven up, thereby hurting the financial health of families and businesses.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, new solar power is five times more expensive than new natural gas. New offshore wind power is about 2.5 times more expensive than new natural gas. 

And here we are moaning and gnashing our teeth over fracking. MORE: 

Both solar and wind power are unreliable sources of electricity. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. As a result, these renewable sources have limited value because they can’t meet baseload generation requirements (the constant demand for electricity) nor can they meet peak demand because an electricity grid manager, unless he’s a magician, can’t force the sun to shine on command. 

Further, these sources must be backed up by conventional sources of power, such as natural gas, because renewable sources are so unreliable. These limitations are critical to understand because we can’t simply get rid of a coal plant and then expect to replace that plant with wind power. These renewable sources aren’t interchangeable with conventional sources of power.

The Beacon Hill Institute, a prestigious economic institute at Suffolk University, analyzed the impact of S.B. 3’s individual mandate. 

BHI’s analysis suggests that S.B. 3 would cut 3,275 jobs by 2014. In other words, over the next three years, these are jobs that North Carolinians would have had, but because of S.B. 3, will never be created. 

S.B. 3 will reduce disposable income $44 million by 2014. This is less money that you and your family can enjoy in your daily lives. State economic output, as measured in state Gross Domestic Product, will be $116 million less than it would have been without the mandate.

Even if you support renewable energy, there’s no justification to mandate it. The state shouldn’t mandate any specific type of electricity sources, be it solar or coal. Utility companies should generate electricity using the lowest-cost and most reliable sources of electricity, whatever they may be.

The General Assembly should repeal S.B. 3. The recently introduced House Bill 431 would take this much-needed step. Only citizens can make a repeal happen, though. Utility companies, like other special interests, favor S.B. 3 because the law has many “goodies” in it for them. The issue of repealing S.B. 3 is truly a question of whether citizens and the state’s economy are more important than special interests.

Well, the state House HAD a chance in 2013 to do JUST THAT in 2013.  But the House leadership — under the guidance of the current GOP nominee — killed the effort. 

The Wall Street Journal offered some hints about what might have led to the repeal’s defeat in the House: 

Perhaps the most striking rejection of a repeal effort came in North Carolina, where the GOP holds supermajorities in both chambers of the state’s General Assembly and where renewable energy still represents a tiny percentage of the electricity supply.

Under a 2007 law, utilities in North Carolina must generate electricity from sources classified as renewable—a category that runs the gamut from the sun to methane gas generated by pig farms. Energy from renewable sources, combined with energy-efficiency upgrades, must account for 12.5% of the state’s retail electricity sales by 2021, compared with about 3% today.

Rep. Mike Hager, the majority whip in the North Carolina House and chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities, proposed in March to scrap that requirement, appealing to fellow conservatives to end what he said was a big-government policy that would raise electricity costs in the state. The bill didn’t gain enough Republican votes to pass Mr. Hager’s committee.

Mr. Hager said his colleagues were swayed by the prospect of local jobs in the renewable-energy sector. “It’s hard to be conservative when it affects your district,” he said in an interview.

“I think it raised eyebrows that the swine industry and environmental interest groups were on the same side of this,” said Don Butler, vice president for government relations at North Carolina-based Murphy Brown LLC, the livestock-production unit of pork giant Smithfield Foods Inc.

Mr. Butler told lawmakers that since the 2007 bill passed, his company and others had together spent tens of millions of dollars developing technology to turn pits of swine manure into fuel for making electricity by capturing methane gas.