House bill that would repeal renewable energy requirement passes committee

From staff reportsApril 3, 2013 

— A House committee on Wednesday narrowly approved a bill repealing the state’s requirement that power companies use subsidized renewable energy.

Following a nearly two-hour meeting, in which the committee heard from speakers on both sides of the issue, the vote was 11 to 10, with two key Republicans voting against it.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Republican from Charlotte who is the Republican conference leader, said the bill went too far. She said she favored studying the 2007 law that established the state’s renewable energy portfolio to update provisions that might need changing.

The bill was amended to include a study, but Samuelson said that should be in a separate bill.

Samuelson said the law has helped develop an alternative energy industry that has benefitted rural communities at a reasonable cost to ratepayers. She noted that traditional fossil fuel and nuclear energy are also subsidized by the government.

Rep. Tom Murry, a Republican from Cary, did not speak during the meeting, but cast his vote with Samuelson and the Democrats.

The bill, by Rep. Mike Hager, a Republican from Rutherfordton, is not exactly on the fast track. House leadership referred it to four committees, and this was the first hurdle.

Hager said the goal of the bill, HB298, is to stop supporting private industry with government money.

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