A bill in the N.C. House that would repeal the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) failed today in the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy by a vote of 18-13.
According to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association talk of insufficient votes in the Environment Committee prompted Rep. Mike Hager to withdraw the “Affordable and Reliable Electricity Act” from the committee’s scheduled hearing in order to attempt to push it through the Public Utilities Committee, which he chairs.
“If the only way a business can move forward is with a subsidy, then maybe we need to rethink the business,” said Hager, a former Duke Energy employee and the bill’s primary sponsor. Fellow lawmakers responded by saying that Duke Energy has an effective subsidy through its huge monopoly on electricity distribution in the state and that subsidies have been used to help up-and-coming industries for decades.
Even after Hager agreed to keep the 12.5 percent commitment to renewable energy from retail sales of state utilities in the bill in order to make it more appealing, a bipartisan majority including several key Republicans in the Utilities Committee still killed the legislation. In the most recent version Hager pushed through, the bill would still allow companies like Duke Energy to let their renewable energy contracts run out without expecting them to pursue any further commitments to wind, solar, biomass, or other industries.