Sometime after 4 o’clock today when the Senate convenes, House Bill 589, the clean energy legislation, will know its fate. Solar will live, but wind will die. Solar and wind will both die. Solar and wind will both live. The latter is unlikely.
The good vibes of the bill — which only two days ago was all but assured a smooth passage to spurring more solar energy in the state — was eclipsed by a last-minute maneuver by wind energy opponent Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown. Yesterday in the Senate Rules Committee, Brown announced he had tacked on a four-year moratorium on wind farms to the measure.
Brown’s move played into the hands of John Droz, a climate change denier and vociferous and indefatigable opponent of solar and wind energy, who had been urging Republican lawmakers to oppose the measure.
Droz is a real estate developer who claims to be a physicist because he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1968. An email obtained by NCPW shows that on June 9, Droz sent an 1,100-word missive to GOP senators, calling HB 589 “a black eye to our state.” (Droz has a standard policy not to speak to NCPW until we stop calling him a real estate developer.)
Although House Bill 589 has its shortcomings, overall, it contains provisions that could further spur the explosive growth of solar energy in North Carolina. Not only would that moratorium stall two projects currently underway, but it would undermine the herculean efforts of stakeholders, including Duke Energy and clean energy groups, which had negotiated the bill language for nearly a year.
In the email, Droz claims to have been a member of the stakeholder group. According to one major stakeholder group, Droz’s name was on the email distribution list. However, no one could remember seeing him physically attend any of the stakeholder meetings.
As NCPW reported in February, Droz previously supplied talking points to Republican lawmakers, who used them to send a letter to the federal government to close the Amazon Wind Farm near Elizabeth City. At least two of the citations came from Breitbart News, the fake journalism site. And among the lawmakers who signed the letter was Sen. Harry Brown.
Here are some excerpts. The emphasis is in the original document.
If you knew nothing else about H589 other than it was written/supported by: The Southern Environmental Law Center, the Sierra Club, NC Sustainability Energy Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, etc. — would you think that it was a bill that benefitted consumers, small businesses and the military, or the entrenched solar industry?
The bottom line here is that well-paid professional lobbyists have successfully snookered some conscientious legislators by playing a game of three-card-monte on them. These lobbyists are taking advantage of Republican legislators who never read this 20 page bill, and who have little understanding of the technical issues involved. Instead these legislators accepted superficial soundbites foisted on them by skilled marketers.
Here is the full email: