Today’s edition was just snuck into the Senate farm bill, a proposed committee substitute that would establish not a state energy policy study committee, but a “Renewable Energy Economic Development Study Committee.”
Already, the thumbs are on the scale. All the members would be “experience[d] in renewable energy” (plus a representative from the Public Staff, which is supposed to represent consumers but has been derelict in that respect too often to be trusted).
This would be what’s known as a “stakeholders” study committee, in which people with a supposed stake in the issue get together and decide what’s the best for everybody. Those familiar with politics know how this goes: it’s basically cronyism gussied up with a doily of process.
A wildlife corollary would be a “Sheep Eating Study Committee” with the “stakeholders” being members of the the red wolf, gray wolf, fox, and coyote “communities.” The sheep at the table would bleat and bleat about being the top stakeholder, but that’s not how the process works.
We electricity consumers are the sheep at this table of wolves. Again, it’s not an energy policy study committee. It’s not just a renewable energy study committee. It’s a renewable energy economic development study committee. Which is Governmentese for renewable energy throwing taxpayer money at study committee.
What a responsible energy policy study committee would do
An actual, responsible study of North Carolina energy policy would start with the idea that captive ratepayers — people who right now are given no choice in their electricity provider and therefore cannot shop for better prices or service bundles — deserve a return to the state’s former policy of least-cost, reliable electricity.*
It would also take a full accounting of costs and benefits. For an example of a better, more responsible approach to energy cost issues, look at the study proposed by the NC Energy Ratepayers Protection Act, which would have also studied “known and measurable” costs and benefits, which would have included grid issues and standby generation issues associated with nondispatchable sources.
*And yes, right now those two descriptors, least-cost and reliable, are existential threats to renewable energy. And they will be so long as renewable energy providers refuse to compete in the market but instead do their damnedest to have their government buddies force people to buy their stuff while guaranteeing their investments.