Renewable Portfolio Standards: GA, NC, and ALEC

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) are being proposed in Georgia and ALEC is trying to do away with them in North Carolina. If ALEC doesn’t like them, there must be something good about RPS. Let’s get on with real renewable energy in Georgia.

In Georgia, HB 503, sponsored by Karla Drenner, Carol Fullerton, Debbie Buckner, Scott Holcomb, Spencer Frye, and Earnest Smith, would create a Renewable Energy Credits Trading program as part of renewable portfolio standards, as Kyle wrote for Spencer Frye’s blog 10 March 2013, Let the Sunshine In. Unfortunately, HB 503 includes biomass as a renewable energy source. Maybe they just mean landfill gas, which I consider a special case since it’s being produced anyway, and since methane is worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2, burning landfill gas makes some sense. Nope, in the actual bill, 46-3-71 (1):

‘Biomass material’ means organic matter, excluding fossil fuels and black liquor, including agricultural crops, plants, trees, wood, wood wastes and residues, sawmill waste, sawdust, wood chips, bark chips, and forest thinning, harvesting, or clearing residues; wood waste from pallets or other wood demolition debris; peanut shells; cotton plants; corn stalks; and plant matter, including aquatic plants, grasses, stalks, vegetation, and residues, including hulls, shells, or cellulose containing fibers

The barn door in there is “harvesting”, which can mean whole trees, but the rest isn’t much better. We don’t need to be burning things that increase atmospheric CO2 and end up stripping our forests. In North Carolina they staretd with just tops and limbs and then tried to escalate to whole trees. We already fought off the biomass boondoggle here in south Georgia; let’s not have it encouraged statewide. Especially when we have better solutions: solar and wind power. HB 503 isn’t going to get passed this year, since it didn’t make crossover day, so maybe its sponsors can clean up that biomass mess before they submit it again.

Speaking of North Carolina, one key to 91% of NC voters wanting more solar power is not renewable energy credits, rather renewable energy transparency, namely the 2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires power utilities to get certain percentages of their energy from “renewable energy resources or energy efficiency measures,” plus frequent, detailed, public reporting, called the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Tracking System (NC-RETS). It’s such a good thing that of course the fossil fuel industry is trying to nuke it.

John Downey wrote for the Charlotte Business Journal 13 March 2013, Bill to eliminate renewable-energy requirements introduced in NC House,

State Rep. Mike Hager and three co-sponsors have introduced a bill in the N.C. House of Representatives that would eliminate state mandates for utilities to produce a small portion of the power they sell in North Carolina from renewable sources.

Downey says Hager has little chance of getting his backwards bill passed, and even Duke Energy hasn’t taken any position on it. But the forces behind that bad NC bill are the same as the forces stopping Drenner’s HB 503 in Georgia, namely ALEC.

Sue Sturgis wrote for Facing South 14 March 2013 Meet the ALEC-connected lawmakers behind bill to kill NC renewable energy law,

You remember ALEC’s Don Parsons was behind the two just-failed bad telecommunications bills in Georgia, and ALEC’s Ronnie Chance replaced ALEC’s Chip Rogers as Senate leader after the statehouse Agenda 21 flap, and Chance and Rogers were behind both the charter school referendum and the multi-year contract referendum. And of course ALEC admitted in response to a LAKE blog post about a Sierra Club expose of ALEC’s role in promoting fossil fuels that ALEC is indeed opposed to renewable energy portfolio standards.

We don’t need ALEC’s fossil fuels and we don’t need ALEC getting in the way of renewable portfolio standards. We have Georgia Power and Southern Company for that! Southern Company’s Service Territory and “Competitive Generation Opportunities” states eerily resemble the southeastern states with no renewable energy standards or goals.

Southern Company is at it again. Mississippi just approved Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) charges to MS Power customers for the alleged “clean coal” Plant Kepmer, just like the GA leg. approved CWIP charges for SO’s new nukes at Plant Vogtle. Nobody has gotten any electricity from either, and the nukes are already a billion over budget and 15 months behind. Time to stop the boondoggles!

We know how to power North Carolina on sun, wind, and water, with much less natural gas than NC uses now. For that matter, we know how to power the entire world on sun, wind, and water.

TEPCO, owner of the broken Fukushima nukes, has even shown us how to build tsunami-proof offshore windmills that would probably work fine in hurricanes off the Georgia coast.

Let’s get on with real renewable energy: sun and wind, conservation and efficiency. Let’s leapfrog botched biomass and failed nuclear and half-open trading schemes and open up a real market for renewable energy in Georgia and the southeast.