Cooper praises bill because it would help a mythical creature

According to Carolina Journal, Gov. Roy Cooper is urging passage of House Bill 589. This bill would (a) reform North Carolina’s exorbitant contract terms under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), which is a sore need for North Carolina electricity consumers, but also (b) create several new policies favorable to solar energy facilities (and some for pig and poultry waste energy facilities), which is the opposite of a sore need for electricity consumers.

What is the governor saying about the bill? This:

“This legislation will help North Carolina stay ahead with lower cost renewable energy that protects our environment and grows our economy,” Cooper said in a news release.

Hm. “Lower cost renewable energy.” That’s a fanciful creature.

Odd that utilities would need legislation to make them purchase energy that was lower cost. It’s as if the governor thinks they are trying to buy higher cost energy just because.

Odd that providers of (lower cost) energy would need legislation to make them bid to sell their (lower cost) energy to utilities at below the avoided-cost rate (utilities’ marginal cost, i.e. their highest cost). That would really be quite redundant, wouldn’t it, if it was already lower cost energy?

Still, North Carolina’s energy prices have been increasing at a much faster rate than national and regional energy prices have ever since state law … started mandating utilities buy set amounts of (lower cost) renewable energy.

The real thing

Come to think of it, there is an energy source that

  • is lower cost
  • protects the environment by leading to lower emissions
  • grows our economy

But it’s not renewable energy, certainly not solar. It’s natural gas. (And don’t even talk about nuclear.)

And by having more natural gas in our energy mix, North Carolina’s energy-based emissions have been falling this century. (We don’t need the Paris agreement.)

All things considered,

solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. It costs $189,000 to replace 1MW per year of power from coal. Wind is the next most expensive

energy costs brookings

Maybe next week the governor can find a bill that will “help North Carolina stay ahead with elves riding flying unicorns sprinkling minimum-wage-hikes-create-jobs fairy dust” or something.

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...