With every year since North Carolina passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) law in 2007, the case for clean energy in our state has grown increasingly stronger. That’s because the byproducts of clean energy policies like the REPS law, which requires 12.5% of North Carolina’s electricity to come from renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2021, speak for themselves. A few that come to mind:
Keeping clean energy in NC’s energy mix will save electric customers $651 million by 2029
State and local governments have enjoyed $280.7 million in positive economic impacts from clean energy development to date
Rural areas are particularly benefiting from clean energy, receiving nearly 75% of the $2.6 billion in clean energy investments made since 2008
It’s no coincidence that in the nearly eight years since the REPS law was passed, North Carolina’s clean energy economy has thrived. In that same time period, the criticism for the REPS has seemingly shifted from cautious trepidation to just plain reaching.
A recent study from the Institute for Political Economy is a prime example of the untenable argument against clean energy in our state. In their March 25th presentation to the Energy Policy Council, the IPE outlined what is perhaps the weakest argument opposing the REPS we’ve heard to date.
One of the authors of the study sets the tone for this presentation by admitting that North Carolina knows “a lot more about [North Carolina’s] REPS than [he] ever will.” In the half-hour to follow, this is made clear as he proves what a weak – or, to use the author's words – "rough cut" study this is. You truly have to see this video, as well as the follow up questions, to believe it. But to save you time, we’ve provided the Cliff's Notes, with accompanying time stamps, below.
The REPS is NOT the Cause (1:57:40)
The study, which claims to have analyzed the effects of REPS laws and what they might mean for North Carolina, does not look at North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) specifically. Rather, the study creates a national average by comparing electricity sales, unemployment, and personal income among other factors in all states that have a REPS policy with all states that do not, and then attributes the differences to the presence (or lack thereof) of a REPS policy.
It should go without saying that because every state is different, it is irresponsible to attribute these differences to a policy that affects such a small part of the electricity production of any state. In fact, this reasoning is almost as ridiculous as saying that having the name of your state end in the letter "A" is causing your electricity prices to increase. According to The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), between 2010 and 2012 states ending in the letter "A" had electricity prices that increased 72.34% faster than the national average. Conversely, states not ending in “A” decreased 20.76% relative to the national average.
The point: No one would ever believe the spelling of your state impacts electricity prices, but it is quite easy to find data to back up a claim like that.
Wrong Period of Study (1:58:26 - 2:01:00)
The study attempts to compare the 48 months prior to the passage of the REPS (2007) and 48 months after its passage. This is not an accurate means of measuring impact since the REPS did not go into effect until 2008 and the first compliance date was not until 2010. The author explains this by clearly stating that there is NOT a causal relationship between their findings and REPS policies in the video.
Admittedly “Rough” (2:01:45)
The author explains that the findings are "rough" since they are applying a national average to North Carolina.
Only Costs, No Benefits Considered (2:03:43)
The author explains that the study is not a cost-benefit analysis. It is their analysis on what the cost "could be."
True Expert Lambastes Results (2:04:00)
Energy Policy Council Member and Former Director of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dr. Richard Newell draws attention to the implausibility of the results. The author then responds to the dissatisfaction of Dr. Newell.
No Energy Policy Experience (2:07:45)
The author admits that the study's authors are not "expert enough in electricity... the actual cost of electricity. Others have done that, we simply have not."
Not Applicable to NC’s Regulatory Climate (2:08:43)
When asked if North Carolina's specific regulatory conditions were taken into account, the author replied that they were not and that this study was a "rough cut."
While these types of mistruths are discouraging, the real story about North Carolina’s clean energy economy is good news. NCSEA stands by the REPS law in its current form, and is working to see it preserved through its intended lifespan. Click here to take action against a new attempt at repealing REPS.
If you are interested in reviewing a study that speaks specifically to the impact of the REPS in North Carolina, we invite you read the Economic and Rate Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina by RTI International and ScottMadden. The summary findings are available here.