Friday’s Bad Bill of the Week on HB 1139 featured just another instance of needless and inefficient “green legislation.” What happens when corporations can’t meet the standards imposed upon them? Yesterday, according to newsobserver.com, over six separate utilities corporations, including Progress Energy out of Raleigh, appealed to the Energy Commission for an extension on meeting the requirements of a law passed in 2007.
SB 3, “Promote Renewable Energy” (a close relative of last week’s “Promote Renewable Jobs”) mandates that 0.07 percent of this year’s kilowatts hours of electricity must be produced from swine waste, that figure jumping to 0.2 percent by 2018. The regulation for poultry waste requires electricity providers to produce 170,000 megawatt hours this year and 900,000 megawatt hours by 2014. Given that North Carolina is the largest pork and poultry producer in the entire country, these regulations do not appear to be insurmountable at first glance. Utilities companies would, indeed, be facing a much greater challenge if the pigs and chickens weren’t already in the state. Unfortunately, however, at the time the bill was passed, there were absolutely no facilities in existence to convert the waste into fuel.
So the government passed another law, SB 1465, to draft swine producers into a program through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Human Services that would begin the capture of methane to be converted into usable energy. And what, you may ask, does the government have to show for all of this well-intentioned legislation? How many waste conversion facilities are in existence now? The answer: zip, zero, zilch. Here’s an idea. Maybe the General Assembly should pass a law to give companies who want to invest in such money-draining enterprises a tax break. Oh wait. North Carolina General Statutes 105-129.15 and 105-129.16A, effective in 2010, already cover that.
The fact is that turning animal waste into usable energy is too expensive. The renewable energy law lacks a respect for the realities of business, one that is typical of government planning. Let the outcome of this legislation be a lesson to us all: the only thing that can analyze and provide the needs of the market is the market and not some short-sighted attempt to force our energy providers to be more eco-friendly.