H ouse Bill 589, a piece of complex renewable energy legislation, was supposed to epitomize the spirit of cooperation. As the bill was unveiled on April 5, lawmakers heralded a nearly year-long process in which representatives from the utilities and clean energy industries hammered out a measure that, while imperfect, they could nonetheless agree on.
But that collaboration, in both spirit and letter, was upended today in the Senate Rules Committee, when a four-year moratorium on wind energy abruptly appeared in the fourth edition of the bill.
Over the next four years, the legislature would hire the Matrix company to draw maps showing where potential interference between 600-foot wind turbines and military training exercises could occur.
Sen. Harry Brown, who’s responsible for the anti-wind provision, called lawmakers’ failure to “protect the military” and its economic value to eastern North Carolina “the biggest injustice the legislature has ever done.”
Brown has repeatedly cited the turbines’ potential interference with the military as a reason to stop wind energy development. He tried to smother wind energy during the last session, but was foiled by disagreements in a conference committee. This time, though, the Onslow County Republican used a complex bill — with perks for nearly every interested party — as a vehicle for his anti-wind obsession.This bill tramples on private property rights Click To Tweet
“This bill is the product of delicate negotiations by a lot of stakeholders,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, Jr. The Durham County Democrat opposed the bill because of the anti-wind provision. “Why do we need to put the moratorium in this bill? Why not deal with it independently?”
“This is the perfect bill for it,” Brown replied.
Perfect, because the other ironclad and hard-fought provisions in the bill make it hard to oppose.