RALEIGH: Push to end NC’s renewable energy program dies in committee | State Politics | NewsObserver.com
Bill to end NC renewable-energy requirements defeated – Charlotte Business Journal
Bill to end NC renewable-energy requirements defeated
Senior Staff Writer-
Charlotte Business Journal
N.C. Rep. Mike Hager’s attempt to press forward with a bill to eliminate the state’s renewable-energy requirements in the next few years failed in a vote Wednesday by the House Public Utilities Committee.
The 18-13 vote essentially kills the bill, although its provisions could be added to another energy bill.
Hager (R-Rutherford) had allowed the bill to be softened twice in an effort to pick up additional votes. And he had the bill referred to his own committee in an apparent attempt to revive its chances.
Still, it failed on a broadly bipartisan vote of the committee, which is majority Republican.
Among the Republicans to speak out against the bill was Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, who has opposed the proposal in the past.
Hager introduced the bill about six weeks ago. It was initially designed to end mandates that utility companies produce part of the power the sell in North Carolina from renewable resources.
Leadership in the House assigned the measure to a torturous path to adoption through as many as five committee and subcommittee votes.
Hager allowed an amendment of the bill in the Subcommittee for Jobs and Commerce that delayed repealing the requirements until 2018. Opponents said another amendment that allowed utilities to count existing hydroelectric plants as renewable power plants essentially left the renewable requirements dead.
The subcommittee previously gave the bill a favorable report. But then the proposal languished without a hearing in the House Environment Committee.
Then Monday, Hager scheduled the bill to come before his own utilities committee. He supported an amendment offered by Rep. Rick Catlin of New Hanover County that postponed eliminating the renewable-energy requirements until 2021. It also eliminated the amendment that would allow existing hydro power to count as a renewable source.
Hager argued that under those circumstances, a vote against the bill was a vote to allow what amounts to a permanent subsidy of renewable energy.
He contends renewable energy is more expensive than power produced by traditional power plants, saying the requirement has been causing customers' utility bills to rise.