And remember, this all magically makes electricity less expensive, too

Earlier this week, the NC hog industry was doing its crony duty of promoting the renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS) mandate.

See, they were getting this [<->] close to turning pig crap into a viable energy source, so they need state legislators to keep the law in place to force poor captive ratepayers into buying it through their state-dictated only electricity provider. Jobs! the environment! cheaper electricity but don’t ask how!

boss hoggNow, however, the state’s biggest utility has Big Hog sounding like Boss Hogg yelling about being outsmarted by them Duke boys. The News & Observer reports:

Duke Energy’s proposal to use Midwestern pig manure toward the power company’s renewable goals in North Carolina is raising a stink from the state’s powerful pork lobby. …

Duke’s claim is simple enough: A pair of power plants that burn natural gas in Salisbury and Rockingham counties should get credit for burning “biogas” from swine waste generated in Missouri and Oklahoma. Swine waste is swine waste, no matter where it comes from, Duke argues.

The N.C. Pork Council worries that if Duke’s argument prevails, North Carolina’s utilities could theoretically meet all their requirements to use hog manure as a renewable fuel without the contribution of a single hog in North Carolina.

Read this convoluted nonsense and remember, the renewable energy industry lobbyists are doubly insulting legislators’ intelligence by telling them (a) they’re conservative, no, really, and (b) this law is really making energy less expensive, we swear to Reagan. Does this Rube Goldberg device sound like a net cost-saver?

North Carolina law essentially says the renewable credits can be claimed in North Carolina as long as the electricity generated from the renewable fuel is used here. Duke would achieve that outcome through sophisticated accounting.

First, Duke would pay to have anaerobic digesters extract biogas from swine waste in the Midwest. The biogas, which would be indistinguishable from natural gas, would be injected into pipelines hundreds of miles from here. Duke would then claim renewable credits for an equivalent amount of natural gas taken from pipelines here to generate electricity for North Carolina households and businesses.

“In this case, the electricity is being produced in North Carolina,” said Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless. …

The state’s energy policy allows utilities to get up to 25 percent of their renewable credits out of state. . And the N.C. Pork Council wouldn’t object if Duke claimed the Midwestern swine waste projects toward the company’s out-of-state allowance, Maier said. The problem for the pork industry is that Duke wants to enter Midwestern swine manure in the in-state column.

Oh, and about those out-of-state renewable credits…

Big Hog can’t push too hard on this issue, even as Duke plays games described by the tamed media as “sophisticated accounting.” Why? Because if the cap on out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs) were challenged in court, it would likely be thrown out as unconstitutional, and Duke would then be able to satisfy the REPS laws’ requirements will all out-of-state wind and pig crap.

Becki Gray is right: the only proper solution to this mess is to repeal the REPS mandate and restore the state to the standard of least-cost reliable electricity.

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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