Excerpt From: Carolina Journal. Written By: Dan Way.
Two highly regarded Republican political consultants told an audience of state lawmakers, lobbyists, and renewable-energy entrepreneurs Tuesday they should consider government intervention into the renewable energy market a “slam dunk” conservative issue that wins at the ballot box.
“There’s a lot of talk that goes on in the legislative building about different energy policies that are proposed,” said Dee Stewart. “But when a lawmaker supports policies that are conducive to the expansion of clean energy options it’s a winner across the board.”
Stewart and fellow GOP consultant Paul Shumaker, principals of the Raleigh-based consulting firm Strategic Partners Solutions, presented results of a new renewable energy poll conducted on behalf of Conservatives for Clean Energy at the City Club Raleigh.
Conservatives for Clean Energy is an advocate for wind and solar energy, calling renewables a free-market competitor to traditional fossil fuels.
The poll asked if respondents would support increasing the mandate forcing public utilities to buy renewable energy from 12.5 percent of their power mix to 25 percent by 2021. Twenty-five percent is the national average for states with Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards.
During a post-event interview, Stewart defended that concept of short-term, government-led investment in private markets for long-term gain.
“There are some conservatives who just flat believe the government shouldn’t be involved in all kinds of industries, and all kinds of decisions,” Stewart said.
“There are other conservatives, the majority, I believe, who believe that if something is a good investment the government ought to invest in it, and government ought to be an encourager of good ideas, and of innovation, and of small business owners, and of lower costs in the future,” Stewart said.
“The big takeaway [for politicians] is that renewables are not the bad guys in the room, and that if you want to make them into the bad guys you are only going to marginalize the support you’re going to get” because renewable energy has deep bipartisan support, Shumaker said.
He told lawmakers they must make decisions that put them in position to be leaders managing the policy issues that will shape the future “so you’re able to keep your majority, stay in control, and win elections.”
That strategy is “going to become a more daunting task” as voter ideology continues to shift statewide from very conservative toward the political center due to an influx of unaffiliated voters from out of state who support clean energy initiatives, Shumaker said.
State Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said his district polls 70 percent in support of renewable energy issues, which became part of his 2016 primary election against challenger Mark Villee.