Bipartisan Vote Stops ALEC Plan To Kill NC's Renewable Energy

GOP lawmakers in the NC House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy broke ranks with their party on a plan to kill the state's renewable energy program.


AFP NC State Director Dallas Woodhouse testifies that renewable energy mandates are punishing NC ratepayers.

North Carolina has been taking a pounding lately at the hands of Gov. Pat McCrory's ALEC-fueled legislature. Fracking, Voter ID, and Florida-style drug tests for recipients of public benefits like food stamps and job training are on the to-do list. With more to come. Remarkably, on Wednesday, the good guys won one.

North Carolina’s renewable energy industry is safe from legislative threats, for now. Republicans and Democrats in the sponsor’s own committee voted down his bill that would have repealed the state’s clean energy standard. This bill mimicked “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

North Carolina is a test case. The Raleigh News and Observer reports that a bevy of conservative organizations converged on Raleigh, hoping to move their agenda ahead by killing the renewable energy program:

The vote in Raleigh was closely watched by national conservative organizations that had targeted North Carolina as the first domino in a national strategy of toppling green-energy policies in more than two dozen states.

Sixteen conservative organizations – including the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute – made a final push for North Carolina’s bill this week with a letter urging lawmakers that it was their “moral obligation” to oppose government programs that interfere with free markets.

Well, that pitch has become a little frayed around the edges. After the Committee on Public Utilities and Energy voted 18-13 to kill the the measure, one of the GOP dissenters explained why he didn't want to turn back the clock on a policy that has helped make North Carolina the country's fifth largest producer of solar energy:

“It was based off local issues back home,” Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who also chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, said after the vote. “I would have had a difficult time talking to a CEO who just brought 300 jobs to Cleveland County [and telling him] that I’m going to vote to eliminate this program that justified their investment.”

Crossing ALEC and Americans for Prosperity might just be a way to draw a primary. But in a state with an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, voting to kill the renewable energy sector isn't the way to win friends and influence voters. It would also kill jobs and jeopardize investments.

This week, Public Policy Polling confirmed that North Carolina voters are rejecting the crazy:

The Republicans as a whole are getting poor marks for their leadership over state government though- 38% of voters approve of the job they're doing to 52% who disapprove. That's largely a function of the legislature. Republicans legislators have a 34/53 favorability rating, and the General Assembly as a whole has just a 20% approval with 56% of voters disapproving of it.

The word on the street is that GOP lawmakers have begun hearing from those disapproving voters.

About Tom Sullivan

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NC-based blogger, political activist and consultant.

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