JLF Memo
Apr. 19th, 2012: - johnlocke.org Manage Subscriptions

WRAL produces government-subsidized electricity, profits from state mandate and subsidies
By Dr. Roy Cordato

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Weekly John Locke Foundation research division newsletter focusing on environmental issues.

The newsletter highlights relevant analysis done by the JLF and other think tanks as well as items in the news.

1. WRAL produces government-subsidized electricity, profits from state mandate and subsidies

Capital Broadcasting Company (CBC), owner of Raleigh Channel 5, WRAL television, is boasting on its website that it is soon to install a 1 megawatt solar power plant in Garner. Not only is it likely they will be eligible for a large tax break for doing this, but CBC is guaranteed to be able to sell the electricity that it generates to Progress Energy under the state's renewable portfolio standard mandate, Senate Bill 3, passed in 2007. As WRAL boasts:

Progress is purchasing the electricity as part of its state-required mandate to generate power from renewable sources. Lloyd Yates, Progress president and chief executive officer, said the CBC site is part of a larger effort to increase the use of solar as an energy source.

The problem is that WRAL is now supposed to report objectively on a controversial state law from which its parent company is profiting. In last year's legislative session there was a proposal to abolish SB3, and similar bills are likely to come forward in the future. According to the only cost-benefit analysis done of the legislation, it is increasing electricity rates, slowing North Carolina's economic growth, and costing the state about 3500 jobs. The decision to build this solar power plant and take advantage of the coerced market that SB3 provides presents a clear conflict for WRAL in reporting on debates over this legislation as they unfold in the future. It is hoped that they note this conflict when the subject comes up, as it most certainly will. Furthermore, while the article doesn't mention this, the Capital Broadcasting Company will probably be eligible for tax breaks that may very well come under scrutiny by the North Carolina General Assembly as it struggles to balance the state budget in future years. Again there is a clear conflict of interest in reporting on these issues, and it is hoped that WRAL will make that clear to the viewers of its news broadcasts.

2. Another heavily subsidized solar company files for bankruptcy

Solyndra received all the attention because it was the first of the Obama administration's financed solar projects to go bankrupt leaving taxpayers and high and dry. But there have been others. The latest is Solar Trust of America (STA), the recipient of a $2.1 billion dollar conditional loan from the Department of Energy, which is the second largest ever loan handed out by the DOE. Bloomberg reports that:

The company joins Energy Conversion Devices Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that suspended production last year; LSP Energy LP, the owner of a natural-gas-fired power plant in Mississippi; Ener1 Inc., maker of lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars; solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC; and energy storage company Beacon Power Corp. (BCONQ) in bankruptcy.

3. Ozone Report

The 2012 ozone season began on April 1 and, as in the past, each week during the ozone season this newsletter will report how many, if any, high ozone days have been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. The ozone season will end on October 31st. All reported data is from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. During the period April 9th to April 15th there were no reported high ozone readings on any of the state's monitors and there have been none thus far this season.

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