Front Porch Blog

Canary Coalition Offers Critique and Solutions for Fixing NC’s Fatally Flawed Renewables Bill

Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly overwhelmingly approved an underwhelming, potentially disastrous Renewables and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). REPS legislation requires utilities to provide a certain percentage of its power from “renewable” sources. The North Carolina REPS calls for an unambitious 12.5% by 2021. Worse, the bill forces ratepayers to assume the costs of constructing new coal and nuclear facilities even if such facilities never begin operation.

Avram Friedman, Executive Director of the Canary Coalition, places the blame for passage of this bill squarely on the shoulders of those who made this bill a reality:

“It’s not accurate to place all fault with the energy corporations . . . Nor is it fair to point at legislators as the primary target for blame . . . The environmental community needs to look inward in sorting out what went wrong as the process it began quickly broke in an unintended direction. There were the two organizations who went over the deep end as partners in the “concensus”, becoming so invested in the process there was no safe way out, defending S3 to the end on the basis of the token Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard, despite the overwhelming consequences of the Construction Work In Progress provisions that would ease the way for more polluting power plant construction and render any advances toward renewables and efficiency meaningless. But, with a few notable exceptions, the entire environmental community was willing to go along with this scheme from the beginning and bears the responsibility for the predictable S3 debacle. The same failed strategies continue to repeat themselves, yielding similar results every time, year after year. Groups allow themselves to be co-opted, moving allegiance from their principles to the process, becoming a part of the system that is perpetuating the problem. Social peer pressure restricts the ability to speak openly and truthfully, in this case about the nature and scope of change that is needed to confront poor air quality and global warming. Legislative proposals coming out of the environmental community are timid and unnecessarily compromising, tailored to what is believed to be the prevailing political wisdom, what would be acceptable in the political and social circles in which one travels. There is no attempt to change the political atmosphere to conform with scientific reality. There is only compromise after compromise until the diluted product is meaningless, or in this case worse than nothing at all, because it strengthens the hand of the coal and nuclear industries. The prevailing sentiment within the environmental community seems to be one of resignation that we live in a serfdom, so lets only try to accomplish what a group of serfs can do. Those who believe they are powerless are powerless, because . . .” Click here to read Avram’s thoughtful critique of S. 3 and his hopeful solution for fixing it.





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