This week in disappointment: energy efficiency, electric cars and 751 South | North Carolina | Indy Week
Pin It

This week in disappointment: energy efficiency, electric cars and 751 South 

We know that the General Assembly is expert at time travel, having sent North Carolina's social and political progress back to the Antebellum era. But reversing course even just three years could cost the state a half-billion dollars (that's billion with a b) annually.

House Bill 201 would revert state energy building codes for commercial construction to 2009 standards—30 percent less energy-efficient than today's minimum benchmarks.

Why should you care? Because if the bill passes, it will cost more taxpayer money to heat and cool new buildings, including schools and other government facilities. And by 2030, the state will lose an estimated $490 million annually in savings that come with keeping the building codes in line with federal law, according to the the U.S. Department of Energy.

N.C. will also lose federal technical assistance, policy guidance, software and analytical support.

On May 31, the DOE sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory asking N.C. if it intended to certify that it has updated commercial codes to meet these federal requirements.

The answer? House Bill 201.

Prius owners, revolt! The Senate budget would require North Carolina drivers to pay an extra $100 annually to register their plug-in vehicles and an additional $50 for hybrids. Lawmakers are calling it a fee: Those damn liberal, fuel-conscious Volt owners are sidestepping gas taxes that pay for highway upkeep.

If you follow the Senate Republicans' logic (is it logic or just meanness?), nonsmokers need to pony up to compensate for the tobacco taxes they don't pay.

Enough of the smokescreen: This fee is really a penalty on the environment. One gallon of gas burned emits about 25 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Each year the average non-hybrid, non-electric car sends 7 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Couple this bill with the move to make it illegal for Tesla to sell its electric cars via the Internet in North Carolina, and what should we conclude? The Legislature hates electricity, except when it's generated by coal-fired power plants and used to air-condition energy-inefficient buildings.

Watch as I pull 751 South out of my hat: SB 315 originally dealt with the construction of a new Durham police headquarters. And then, hocus-pocus: In late May, shortly after Durham City Council nixed annexing 751 South and Colvard Farms and extending utility service to the developments, language mysteriously was inserted in the bill to require the city to do just that.

Under the legislation, the city can require the developer to pay for hookups to the utility system. It can also charge the developer twice the rate for water and sewer compared to property owners within the primary corporate limits of the municipality. But that still doesn't offset the environmental impacts of sprawl in the sensitive Jordan Lake watershed. Nor does it address the Legislature's recent proclivity to wrestle local governments into political submission.

The bill is in the House Finance Committee. Its membership includes Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County and friend of Cal Cunningham, a lawyer for the 751 South developers, Southern Durham Development. Moore was the architect behind a similar bill that failed last year and is the driving force behind the 2013 version.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Absolute power trip."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in North Carolina



Twitter Activity

Comments

Looking for a home for myself and my boys. I also have one on the way. I am in college …

by Amanda Sharek on Abandoned mobile homes plague North Carolina (North Carolina)

Have to disagree with ct. When did the N and O last provide strong city and county govt news coverage …

by Leanne Sigmon on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

Most Recent Comments

Looking for a home for myself and my boys. I also have one on the way. I am in college …

by Amanda Sharek on Abandoned mobile homes plague North Carolina (North Carolina)

Have to disagree with ct. When did the N and O last provide strong city and county govt news coverage …

by Leanne Sigmon on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

I fear the N&O wants to bet its future on being the "newspaper of record" for state government and is …

by ct on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

To clarify my comment in the article: my feelings are that the reader-focused shift is not NECESSARILY a bad move.

by andrew losowsky on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

I dropped my long-time subscription to the N&O after a columnist wrote a love letter to Art Pope because he …

by SomeCallMe...Tim on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation