Archives

On national MLK day, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) launched a 5-state, $6 million TV and social media campaign aimed at the President in the run up to this year’s election. AFP says it will focus its efforts in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, spending $1 million in our state. ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that the Koch Brothers (David Koch is the AFP founder) are among the campaign donors and don’t forget that conservative, deep pockets Art Pope, president of Variety Wholesalers based in Henderson, is a board of Director for the national AFP.

For those unfamiliar with AFP, it describes itself as a grassroots organization advocating for public policies that “champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” For example, they are responsible for the attack on then President Obama’s green jobs czar Van Jones, creating Tea Party rallies against global warming policies with funding from big oil and supporting activities in Wisconsin to deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers (where Koch Industries was among the largest contributors to Governor Scott Walker’s campaign). Does this sound like grassroots to you?

ABC’s Tapper fact checked the Anti-Obama ad and provides a critique. While I cannot deny that the Solyndra loan had its problems, AFP is using it to continue its attack on clean energy and government subsidies. Yet AFP is fine with big oil, gas, coal and nuclear subsidies from the feds – subsidies that continue our fossil fuel addiction and in the case of nuclear are very high risk guaranteed loans.

 

 

A wrench was thrown into the Duke and Progress Energy merger on Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which must approve the companies joining together before it can be finalized.  The federal agency wants to hear from the utilities about how they will address “already excessive levels of market concentration.”

This wrench is a huge opportunity for consumers, the renewable energy business and its advocates.  Those concerned about the merger should take full advantage of the uncertain moment and press for changes that will not only look after consumers but also advance energy efficiency and renewable energy to do our part to combat global warming. Read More

When it comes to stacking the card deck in one’s favor, no one seems more adept than dirty energy industries, namely oil, coal and gas. These companies enjoy enormous government subsidies, huge profits and executive salaries most of us couldn’t imagine.

North Carolina has an important role in leveling the playing field for renewable energy, given our renewable potential. But so far, it appears that decision-makers will continue to stack the deck in favor of dirty energy. Here’s how … Read More

Folks concerned about electricity rate hikes received some good news this week. Robert Gruber, executive director of the Public Staff of the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC), told the Charlotte Business Journal he is opposing efforts by utility companies to recover costs for building new nuclear reactors before they are constructed.

Duke Energy’s CEO, Jim Rogers, recently requested the NCUC allow his company to charge ratepayers for two new nuclear power plants Duke wants to build in South Carolina, BEFORE ground is broken for reactors that have no permits and may never be built. Rogers’ request was made only days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which touched off the ongoing releases of radiation from the Fukushima reactors that are damaged beyond repair.

Site for the proposed Lee nuclear plants

Gruber, whose job is to protect ratepayers, sees the writing on the wall in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe – more review of nuclear plant design and the possibility of more regulations that will drive the cost of nuclear power even higher. Gruber thinks that natural gas and a mix of renewable energy is going to be cheaper for ratepayers. It’s a twofer – better rates and better for the climate.

Unfortunately, Republican Representative George Cleveland of Onslow County, recently introduced a bill (HB 431) to repeal 2007 legislation, requiring utilities to get 12.5% of their energy from renewable sources by 2021. More than half of the states in the country have renewable energy requirements, ranging from 10% to 40% (NC’s is very weak by percentage and timeline). Repealing this hard- fought legislation will only further delay efforts to tackle climate change. The utilities don’t seem keen on repeal either as this legislation allows them to file for rate hikes with the NCUC for construction of new plants.

The Gruber announcement and the tragedy at Fukushima dealt critical blows to both the rate hike request and the reactors’ viability.

Meanwhile Duke Energy’s goal to scale up to 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 isn’t very ambitious if Rogers believes what he says about the seriousness of climate change. Duke needs a far more aggressive efficiency and renewable energy program for North Carolina along with canceling the nuclear power plants. This would protect ratepayers and help dial back climate change, instead of wasting precious time trying to finance and build new nukes.