A contested bill in North Carolina that would repeal the state’s renewable portfolio standard is moving forward despite what appeared to be committee that voted against it. The bill was moved out of the Senate Finance Committee by State Senators Bill Rabon and Bob Rucho, both Republicans, who co-chair the committee. The senators held a voice vote on the legislation and despite a video of the vote (below) showing that more senators appeared to be against the bill than for it, Rabon said it passed and refused to do a headcount of votes.
It’s just the latest move in an onslaught against the state’s renewable portfolio standard despite widespread support for more renewables in the state. The bill, SB 353, is the Senate’s version of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) repeal bill, that’s being pushed through the legislature by some Republicans, despite some opposition within the party.
“What was most notable about the Committee meeting was not the gamesmanship that allowed the bill to live for another day, but the bipartisan nature of the support expressed for preserving the REPS,” said Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. “It is also telling that North Carolina citizens, businesses, and investors continue to speak out in support of the REPS, as they have each time repeal has been debated at every step along the way.”
During the hearing, advocates for clean energy including solar and wind, were the only ones to speak. Among the repeal bill’s detractors were farmers, the N.C. Pork Council and N.C. Farm Bureau. “I am telling you that the investors, the bankers, and the technology providers have sent a very clear signal to us — without Senate Bill 3, you won’t see us again,” said Don Butler a vice president at livestock company Murphy-Brown. “You would be jerking the rug from under those people who have invested tens of millions of dollars.”
The repeal effort had a sister bill in North Carolina’s House, but it was defeated in committee. “That bill was rejected last week in the House Public Utilities and Energy Committee by a decided bipartisan majority of 18 - 13 including several from Republican leadership,” according to NCSEA.
The repeal bill is being watched by conservative groups across the nation to determine if such renewable portfolio repeal efforts can succeed, according to NewsObserver. Among the organizations following the bill are the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute. For it to have any chance of being passed by both parts of the state’s legislature, it has to make it to the house by May 16.
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