Energy efficiency is all the rage these days. “Green” products are hip, and saving the environment is supposedly as easy as turning your lights off at night. There is nothing wrong with individuals engaging in voluntary actions they perceive will help reduce our ecological footprint. Moreover, such actions can also lower utility bills, helping us save money in the long run.
However, “green” products and “renewable energy” normally cost more and as such many people opt not to buy eco-friendly products, or struggle to afford higher energy costs.
House Bill 135 “Efficient and Affordable Energy Rates Bill” introduced by Representatives Keever (D- Buncombe), Parfitt (D-Cumberland), and Moore (D-Mecklenburg) seeks to force peoples’ choice by introducing a whole slew of mandates aimed at forcing energy efficiency, and uses strong arm tactics to ensure that citizens conform to their idea of energy policy. Senator Kinnaird (D- Orange, Person) introduced a corresponding bill in the Senate (SB 367).
The bill introduces tiered power rates based off of how much energy residential, commercial, public, and industrial customers use throughout the day. As larger quantities of energy are used, the cost per kilowatt hour goes up. Furthermore, power used during peak demand periods, such as mornings before persons go to work and afternoons as they return, would cost more than energy used during off hours.
The most egregious section of the bill, however, is the amendment to the general statues entitled “Avoidable Pollution Tax for Certain Energy Inefficient Products,” which targets certain energy consuming products for higher taxes.
In this section, a privilege tax would be imposed on every “inefficient” energy product sold by retailers. In layman’s terms, retailers (and customers by extension) would be charged increased rates for selling inexpensive goods that are not as technologically advanced; an effort to force the sale of more expensive, eco-friendly products. Goods that are normally less expensive would be artificially inflated in a government attempt to dissuade their purchase.
This of course is on top of already existing sales taxes, skyrocketing prices and limiting access to affordable goods.
With the economic downturn, North Carolinians are having a hard enough time trying to make ends meet as it is. The last thing they need is government interference pushing prices up in a misguided effort to force change in energy consumption habits. The government should focus its efforts instead on ensuring persons keep as much of their money as possible, using it as they see fit.
For meddling with free market rates on goods, for unnecessarily raising costs of consumer products, and for attempting to enforce idealistic energy agendas using strong arm tactics, HB 135/SB 367 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.