Carter Wrenn borrows a very bad argument

From the conclusion to my recent Spotlight report on renewable energy:

In North Carolina, electricity consumers have no choice in their electricity provider.

This fact should, first of all, never provide an excuse to use this lack of a free market to enrich special interests at the expense of captive ratepayers.

In return for this guaranteed consumer base, the utility is expected to provide reliable power. The utility was also expected to provide the least-cost reliable power, but that dynamic changed under the REPS mandate.

State leaders should return North Carolina to this standard of least-cost, reliable power.

I wrote a few weeks back that the special-interest lobby for renewable energy

has a novel argument being used in social media, comments, and other under-the-radar venues against North Carolina’s leading light for true freedom. That argument is that the electricity market in North Carolina is not a free market, but the John Locke Foundation isn’t informing people that.

I didn’t say it was a good argument. At worst it would simply mean that JLF isn’t bothering to point out the patently obvious.

I think the argument is a fumbling attempt at technical disqualification, as if all the work JLF has done in bringing facts and data to light about the nature and limitations of renewable energy — and all the corporate cronyism, tax incentives, and purchase mandates used by the lobby’s friends and campaign donation beneficiaries in government to force it on people — doesn’t “count” if the lobby finds some way, any way to argue JLF shouldn’t be involved.

Not that the goal of the argument matters; is it true or not? Let’s look at JLF reports on the renewable energy mandate. [Abandon all hope of that argument surviving, ye who read further.] …

Even the estimable Carter Wrenn has fallen for that novel and deplorably silly argument. Q.v., his ad hominem–riddled column of Sept. 22, where among other things he writes:

They’d [the John Locke Foundation] started out with the best of intentions saying they wanted the free market to set the price of solar electricity and that the government regulations requiring Duke Energy to buy a fraction of its electricity from solar companies should be abolished – which all sounded fine.

And logical.

Until they hit a submerged rock.

Because there is no free market for electricity.

Oh, well, gee, Mr. Wrenn, I guess that changes everything? If there’s no free market, should we just fling ratepayers to the mercy of the policymakers’ favorite cronies?

Goodness, is it not the case that the Locke Foundation has ever:

Our principles are intact, sir. Your reasoning here, on the other hand, is suspect.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, 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...