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Clean Energy Misunderstood: Debunking 5 Common Claims

Posted By Allison Eckley, Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Claim #1: NC's Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) is a policy mandate and should be repealed; let the "free market" and customers decide the best energy sources. 

Fact: NC has a highly-regulated, monopoly controlled electricity market; thus, there is no free market. Since 2008, the REPS law has allowed limited market competition, customer choice, and economic benefits.

Claim #2: NC has lost 3,600 jobs because of renewable energy and higher energy costs.*
Fact: North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose 6% over the same time period as the economic downturn of the Great Recession^. There is no causation between jobs lost and North Carolina’s energy policies. In fact, quite the opposite – NC now has over 25,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs found in every region**.

Claim #3: Renewable energy has received $224 million in tax giveaways and special treatment.*
Fact: NC's renewable energy investment tax credit is not a “giveaway”; it simply allows a NC taxpayer (individual or business) to keep more of the money they earn. In turn, the claimers of this tax credit have made much-needed investments in our state's economy. According to the NC Department of Revenue, $227.2 million in renewable energy investment tax credits have been taken since 2009+ – resulting in over $2.6 billion in direct investment from clean energy projects++. And rural areas are benefiting the most: nearly 75% (over $1.9 billion) of that investment has occurred in Tier 1 and Tier 2 Counties.++

Claim #4: There was $556 million in increased energy costs and money taken out of the economy this year due to renewable energy.*
Fact: According to staff of the NC Utilities Commission, electricity rates overall have increased, but the vast majority of that increase is due to investment in new fossil fuel plants and inflation.~ Energy costs are lower than what they would have been without clean energy deployment spurred by the REPS policy++.

Claim #5: Renewable energy and high energy costs deter business startups and expansions, particularly manufacturing industries.*
Fact: Clean energy helps businesses thrive – just ask Apple, Facebook, and Google, who all operate data centers in our state and have cited NC’s clean energy policies as motivations for being here. In a letter to the NC General Assembly, the companies stated: “As global companies providing services to consumers around the world from our operations in the state, a reliable, sustainable electricity supply is critical, and requires sourcing power from renewable energy. In fact, the right and ability to access power from renewable resources is not merely a goal, but an expectation.”^^

*Claims: As reported by Becki Gray, Carolina Journal, Nov. 3, 2015; Claims Source: The Renewable Portfolio Standards NC (Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University/Strata Policy), Feb. 2015
+NC Department of Revenue, Renewable Energy Property http://www.dornc.com/publications/incentives/2015/index.html
^Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2005-2009: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST370000000000003
~NC Utilities Commission attorney, as reported by The News & Observer, Apr. 22, 2015: http://www.wral.com/proposed-rollback-on-nc-renewable-energy-requirements-again-rejected/14599311/
**NC Sustainable Energy Association, 2015 Clean Energy Industry Census, Upcoming Publication
++RTI International, Economic and Rate Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina—2015 Update, Feb. 2015
^^TechNet letter submitted on behalf of Apple, Google and Facebook to NC General Assembly, May 2015: http://cleanenergync.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Apple-Inc.-Facebook-Inc.-Google-Inc..pdf

Tags:  clean energy  NCGA  REITC  renewable energy  REPS  solar  tax credit 

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