Damning Renewable Energy Measures Advance In Three Key Wind States

Mark Del Franco
Written by Mark Del Franco
on May 07, 2015 No Comments
Categories : Policy Watch

As state legislative sessions kick into high gear, three damning pieces of legislation – including two particularly crippling bills for wind energy – advanced in Texas, Nebraska and North Carolina.

Texas – the No. 1 wind state in the U.S. – is facing legislation that, among other things, will repeal its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and dismantle the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission initiative.

On May 6, S.B.931,’relating to the goal for renewable energy and [CREZ],’ was referred to the House Committee on State Affairs, which oversees state electric utilities. The committee is chaired by Rep. Byron C. Cook, R-District 8.Â

The referral was delayed by nearly three weeks, as some speculated the bill was being held up by Texas politics. The Texas legislature adjourns June 1.

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, state legislators mounted a filibuster to block L.B.423, the renewable energy production tax credit.

L.B.423, introduced by Rep. Jeremy Nordquist, D-Omaha, would have required wind farms to be constructed within Nebraska and achieve commercial operation after September to receive a credit against state income tax of $0.75/kWh produced for the project's first 10 years.

However, a band of conservative lawmakers blocked the proposed tax credit, arguing that the state should not be required to subsidize wind energy. Senators voted 30-12 to bring the bill to a vote, but supporters needed 33 to overcome the filibuster.

Finally, pending legislation in North Carolina also seeks to roll back the state RPS. The legislative effort is particularly damning because it attempts to wipe out wind development before the technology can take hold.Â

H.B.760, ‘Regulatory Reform Act Of 2015,’ was voted out of the North Carolina House of Representatives by a vote of 77-32. The bill now moves to the Senate.

H.B.760 would freeze North Carolina's RPS at the current 6% and halt progress toward the 12.5% by 2021 requirement – all of this despite the fact that utility commission reports indicate the policy has almost no impact on consumers and that the standard has helped create thousands of jobs in the state.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), there are wind projects in the planning stages that total over $1 billion worth of investment in North Carolina's rural counties. This investment will create jobs, build roads and provide funding for schools.

However, if H.B.760 passes in its current form, that investment will go to other states.

‘We are opposing this measure, which threatens the continued advancement of clean energy in North Carolina,’ explains Andrew Gohn, AWEA's eastern state policy director. ‘We will continue to firmly oppose this attack on clean energy in the North Carolina Senate. Rolling back the Tar Heel State's commitment to clean energy would harm consumers, the environment and economic development in North Carolina.’

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