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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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Commentary

The good people at the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters did a great job this morning of exposing the dishonesty in the latest attacks on renewable energy in North Carolina in recent weeks from the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. This is from this morning’s LCV Weekly Conservation Bulletin:

“Meanwhile on another key legislative front, one of the most well-heeled anti-environmental advocacy groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), has rolled out its latest dollars-and-nonsense attack on clean energy. AFP, which not coincidentally receives much funding from oil industry and other dirty energy sources, loves to attack clean, renewable energy development with factually questionable claims. In its latest assault on clean energy, AFP has launched a grab bag of dubious allegations attacking North Carolina’s imperiled Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS).

(For those who came in late, REPS requires electric utilities operating in North Carolina – especially Duke Energy – to produce or purchase a modest minimum percentage of its electricity from renewable sources like solar. REPS shares responsibility with the renewable energy development tax credits for the enormous boom in solar energy generation and related jobs in NC over the past eight years. Unfortunately, the House’s latest regulatory ‘reform’ bill, HB 760, was amended on the House floor to include anti-REPS changes. HB 760 passed the House and is now pending in the state Senate).

In working to gin up support for gutting REPS, AFP is flinging muddy claims about cost. Read More

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Solar powerThe good people at the League of Conservation Voters have highlighted a couple of encouraging stories this morning in their weekly newsletter about the rapid progress occurring in the solar energy business (even as the fossil fuel industry and their paid helpers in government and the conservative think tanks do their utmost to stop it).

#1 – Environomics: Solar Jobs Leave Fracking in the Dust

The solar energy industry in NC already produces nearly eight times the number of jobs that fracking supporters predict their risky enterprise will create in our state — and unlike the fracking will-‘o-the-wisp, these real solar jobs are climbing fast. That’s 3,100 jobs and rising.

We’re already fourth in the nation in solar electric generating in the US, and half of that capacity was built just in the last year. And that power and jobs production from solar in NC will keep climbing—so long as legislators and regulators don’t listen to anti-renewable energy lobbyists and ideologues and do something stupid like throwing out the existing policies that are creating the solar boom here.

A few years ago, the big power companies’ trade association mocked solar energy with an ad using the Annie musical song, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. In case they hadn’t noticed it, tomorrow is here, baby. More here.

#2 Around the Globe: Germany Makes Solar Breakthrough

For another stake in the heart of the myth that renewables can’t produce enough power to make a difference, here’s the latest from Germany. As of last month, that major industrialized nation produced a full half of its summer-day electric generation from solar power.

Not only that, but 90% of Germany’s solar generation is coming from rooftop installations rather than big solar farms. That kind of evidence should be enough to make folks over at the N.C. Utilities Commission re-think the stakes involved in the ongoing cases over rates to be paid for solar electricity.

Read the details about Germany’s recent solar electric production records here.

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The far right is pushing an ideologically-driven scheme to repeal North Carolina’s very modest 2007 renewable energy law just as it’s really starting to make a difference in jump-starting a homegrown sustainable energy sector. This morning’s Wilmington Star-News explains why backtracking would be big mistake:

“Why would a state intentionally limit its potential for economic growth? That was the probable result of a bill to eliminate a renewable-energy requirement that is nurturing the growing alternative-energy industry in North Carolina. Fortunately, some lawmakers in Raleigh apparently realize the damage the bill could do and have put the brakes on it, for now….

At a time when China and other nations are investing more in alternative energy sources and when demand for renewables is increasing, our state should not reject this currently small but thriving industry. If our leaders continually dwell in the present with no vision for the future, the result will be economic stagnation. Read More

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Back in the mid-1990’s, a newly-elected Republican legislator in the North Carolina House made his first order of business upon arriving in Raleigh to introduce a resolution that purported to repeal a resolution passed by the General Assembly in 1941. We are not making this up.

The arch-conservative lawmaker thought that it was critical that legislators revoke an endorsement their predecessors had given more than a half-century earlier near the outbreak of world war that had called for the establishment of some kind of successor to the failed League of Nations. The lawmaker was convinced that the long-ago resolution was somehow abetting the world’s slide toward one-world government.

Although the 1995 resolution actually passed the GOP-led House, it died in the Senate and was quickly relegated to the dustbin of conspiracy kook ideas.

Now, flash forward to 2012. Amazingly enough the conspiracy kook movement is now revived — this time in the disturbed ravings of Wake County Commissioner and quite-likely-soon-to-be U.S. Congressman Paul Coble. Read More