Note to media: the ‘moneyed interests’ in the energy policy debate are the pro-renewables/pro-give-us-tax-credits cronies

Carolina Journal today writes that “big solar is big business for big business.” How big?

While Duke Energy is passing higher costs to ratepayers because state law forces it to purchase renewable energy, the utility also claimed a whopping $62.8 million in tax write-offs in 2014 for its own investments in green power projects.

The electric giant accounted for roughly half of the state’s $126,661,982 renewable tax credit bonanza in 2014, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield a distant second at $16.8 million, according to state Department of Revenue records.

Dating back to 2010, Duke has claimed an additional $3,112,503 in tax credits, and BCBS has been issued another $12,696,204.

The state grants tax credits for 35 percent of investments in renewable energy projects, most of which are solar farms. Developers also can claim a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar projects. In addition, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University lists 113 programs under which renewable projects in North Carolina can qualify for various state and federal incentives.

State Revenue Department records show that big solar is big business for big business. The state has issued $224,508,181 in tax credits since 2010, according to Revenue Department records.

Meanwhile, yesterday The News & Observer published a typical column in favor of keeping and ramping up North Carolina’s tax credits and forced purchase mandates on captive ratepayers/taxpayers.

It hit all the lowlights.

First, it starts from the ill-researched assumption that the forced use of nondispatchable electricity sources would create such a dent in greenhouse emissions from one state (out of 50)  in one nation (out of nearly 200) as to prevent climate change.

—This despite the fact that such sources require traditional sources on constant standby and, all things considered (as Brookings showed), end up being a far more expensive way to cut greenhouse emissions than using natural gas for electricity.

Then it parrots discredited statistics to act as if forcing captive ratepayers/taxpayers to subsidize renewable energy industries and pay subsequently higher rates is a positive, pro-jobs and pro-growth proposal.

—Forcing everyone to pay more for something means they have less available to them to meet the family needs they otherwise could have met, which then cuts available income to providers of those needs.

It’s hard to track those effects, especially when you carefully avoid looking at those costs but instead look at just the effects of the forced wealth transfer (from lots of people who don’t have much wealth to speak of, remember) to the single, policy-favored industry begging for more, more, more.

Then it acts like the forces of greed and cronyism are on the side of ending the tax credits and forced purchase mandates on captive ratepayers/taxpayers. The phrase used in this column is that “our successful policies are under attack from moneyed interests whose pervasive influence stifles open-minded dialogue.”

—The policies are the be-all and end-all of the renewable energy industry, which has made no secret of the fact that it cannot live without pretty much 100 percent support from government making everyone else keep it alive.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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