We know this stuff is complicated, but if you’d really like to understand what North Carolina is doing to promote solar power (and other renewables) and why it is good for our economy, jobs, competition, freedom, capitalism, electric bills and, incidentally, the future of the planet, watch this excellent presentation at last week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation by Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association. (Click to the 5:30 mark to skip the introduction).

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Solar powerThe momentum to reject the General Assembly’s misguided effort to torpedo North Carolina’s solar power boom continues to build. Today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer features the latest broadside against the sabotage effort — an op-ed by, of all people, former Bank of America Hugh McColl.

As McColl rightfully point out in “How solar could make NC the next silicon valley”:

“Critics of solar do not understand that it is here to stay. In the last decade, business and innovation have cut the cost of solar power by more than half. Solar is now close to competing with conventional sources of energy such as natural gas, coal and nuclear. Solar in North Carolina costs our utilities 6 to 7 cents a kilowatt-hour and continues to fall. Compare that with the average retail price of about 11 cents a kilowatt-hour.

New growth industries drive job creation and economic diversification. North Carolina’s renewable energy policies and tax credits have created more than 23,000 jobs and $3 billion investment. Our universities are helping to drive innovation in solar, and the industry improves North Carolina’s brand and ability to compete for talent globally. In fact, one of our homegrown solar companies, Strata Solar, was recently named as one of the top 10 solar companies in the world.

Solar is here to stay. The question is, will it stay in North Carolina? Our state has the opportunity to compete and be a leader in this 21st century industry. All our legislature has to do is maintain our renewable energy policies and phase down the tax credit responsibly rather than ending it abruptly this year.”

Learn more about this debate and how you might participate in it by attending this Thursday’s N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon: “Will lawmakers bust North Carolina’s clean energy boom?” The event will feature Ivan Urlaub of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and other voices from the state environmental community. Here are the details:

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Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

Image: Natural Resources Defense Council

Koch brother-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity have launched an all out assault in recent days against modest, common sense North Carolina public policies that encourage the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. They’ve tried just about every prevaricating message they can think of, but the one they seem to have settled on of late is the absurd claim that we are somehow unfairly disadvantaging fossil fuels and driving up the costs to consumers by promoting green energy.

This is simply and plainly false.

The truth is that Americans already subsidize the fossil fuel monster to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. This is from the May 20 edition of The Weekly Briefing:

“As a new and powerful report from the International Monetary Fund demonstrates convincingly, the true cost of fossil fuels to society is vastly higher when one figures in the massive public subsidies that are expended in the form of environmental damage, health impacts and the public costs of dealing with both. Read More


Solar powerWill lawmakers bust North Carolina’s clean energy boom?

As has been reported recently by N.C. Policy Watch and other media outlets, some powerful North Carolina politicians and interest groups appear to have it in for solar power and other forms of sustainable energy.Recently, they helped advance legislation in both the House and the Senate that would freeze North Carolina’s “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard” (or “REPS”) – a law that requires a growing percentage of the state’s electricity load to be provided by renewable sources. Current law places the REPS requirement at 6%, but it is scheduled to grow to 10% in 2018 and 12.5% in 2021. Together with some other provisions, REPS is a big part of the reason North Carolina has one of the nation’s fastest growing solar energy industries. Unfortunately, all of this could change quickly if the “freeze” legislation continues to move forward.

Please join us as we explore this timely and critical issue with Ivan Urlaub, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).

Click here to register

Ivan has led the NCSEA since 2006 and helped make it a formidable force for advancing knowledge in this vitally important field. Under Ivan’s leadership, NCSEA convenes and advocates for a clean energy path that would result in net savings for all North Carolina ratepayers, maintain a financially stable and reliable utility, and ensure a globally and regionally competitive energy industry that benefits all of North Carolina.

When: Thursday, June 4, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Click here for parking info.

Space is limited – preregistration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

At some point, you’d think it would have to catch up with Senator Bob Rucho. The quick-tempered Charlotte lawmaker who once resigned (temporarily as it turned out) as chair of the Senate Finance Committee in a huff and who infamously tweeted in December 2013 “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets & terrorists combined,” has run into trouble again this week. This time, however, the controversy involves more than just his temper and his virtual mouth — it involves how he is performing his official duties. As Brian Sewell of Appalachian Voices explained in a post entitled “A Crass Abuse of Power in the N.C. Senate” the other day, the latest offense involved Rucho’s failure to abide by Senate rules in ramming through a bill the other day to wreak havoc in the state’s renewable energy industry.

Now, this morning Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten lays out the grisly details in a post entitled “Do rules not apply to Bob Rucho?”:

“We’ve watched for years as Bob Rucho’s thirst for power has grown insatiable. With each bit of authority he was given, the state senator and retired dentist from Matthews became increasingly brazen.

Now, even some of his fellow Republicans in the Senate have had enough.

Rucho declared a bill had passed in his Senate Finance Committee Wednesday even though a voice vote suggested it had failed. Rucho may have violated Senate rules by not allowing a show of hands instead of the voice vote despite a request for one from a committee member.

Two of Rucho’s fellow Republicans on the committee objected. Craig Jarvis of the News & Observer reports that Sen. Jerry Tillman, a seven-term Republican from Archdale, told Rucho, ‘It wasn’t even close’ after the voice vote. And Sen. John Alexander, R-Wake, also voted against the bill and was frustrated with Rucho’s heavy-handedness. Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, called Rucho’s act ‘a crass abuse of power.’ Read More