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Proposed legislation would turn state backward on clean energy – Winston-Salem Journal: Editorials

Republicans won the governor’s office and the legislature in 2012 on a promise of creating jobs, not destroying them.

Yet that is what legislation filed last week would do: destroy jobs in the fast-growing renewable-energy sector.

House Bill 298, with a lead sponsor of Rep. Michael Hager, R-Rutherford, would roll back the state’s renewable energy laws that have spawned solar and wind farms and spurred many homeowners and small businesses to install solar panels.

That law directs the state’s electrical utilities to buy an increasing percentage of its electricity over the next several years from producers who used renewable technologies and methods. Solar panels and wind farms are the two most prevalent, but there are also many other technologies in development. The state’s utilities supported the law when it was passed in 2007 and are not seeking its repeal this year.

Because renewable energy is more expensive to produce, the federal government subsidizes it with tax credits. These clean, and locally produced, forms of energy have created thousands of jobs.

HB 298 would have disastrous consequences because it directs the utilities to buy all of their power based on the cheapest production. Hager, a former Duke Energy engineer, says the government should not interfere with the electricity market.

Somehow, Hager has overlooked the considerable government interference in the fossil-fuel market, interference in the form of tax breaks and special-use permits for government lands.

Should this bill pass, it would not only destroy the state’s renewable energy companies, it would also undermine the investments of the many private North Carolinians who had solar panels installed on their homes and who now sell their electricity back to the power companies.

For more than two years now, since they gained control of the General Assembly, Republican legislators have been rolling back environmental protections with a fury. Now their enthusiasm is getting to the point of undermining their own platform. They would kill jobs with this bill.

Let’s hope that reasonable legislators will stop this bill and save North Carolina jobs.

via Editorial: Proposed legislation would turn state backward on clean energy – Winston-Salem Journal: Editorials.