Governor Cooper’s Budget Recommendations Pushes Wind Energy Boondoggle

October 1, 2016 - The Block Island Wind Farm, the first US offshore wind farm, as seen from Block Island. The five Halide 6MW turbines were recently installed by Deepwater Wind, and are currently under commissioning. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

RALEIGH – Last week Democrat Governor Roy Cooper released his budget recommendations to the General Assembly. Being that Republicans still hold majorities on Jones Street for the time being, the budget reads more like a Leftist’s wish list than a serious budget proposal. One of those wish list items? ‘Investing’ in wind energy.

Politicians like Cooper use the term ‘investments’ to gussy up big spending proposals. When it comes to wind energy, Cooper wants to ‘invest’ in a study of the Old North State’s capacity to manufacture the components of wind turbines and correlated materials. I can save taxpayers $300,000 and just tell you, we certainly have capacity, but state government shouldn’t be using taxpayer money to push the issue.

From Energy News:

“A small line item tucked into North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s $25 billion budget proposal would have a big impact on wind energy’s future in the state, industry experts say.

If approved by state legislators, a one-year, $300,000 study will analyze the state’s potential to manufacture, ship and service offshore wind turbine components: enormous towers, blades and other specialized parts that are now imported from Europe.

Mid-Atlantic and New England states that have conducted their own such assessments are starting to corner the nascent U.S. offshore wind market, said Katharine Kollins, the president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition.

“This has already been done by a number of states who are much further ahead in Northeast,” Kollins said. The study, she said, “is really just about North Carolina keeping up with other states and maintaining competitive advantage.” […]

“North Carolina has long been a leader in developing and supporting new industries like clean energy, and we’re a leading state for manufacturing,” said Cooper’s Department of Commerce in a prepared statement. “The supply chain study will shed light on the best approaches for our state’s existing network of suppliers and for our skilled manufacturing workforce.” […]”

Understanding our manufacturing capabilities and laying the ground work for expansion into new markets that can lead to more jobs and prosperity is great. However, the Democrats’ (and sometimes Republicans’) approach to such issues involves spending taxpayer money to subsidize and enrich connected clean energy cronies.

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We’ve seen it happen here with ‘investments’ in the solar industry. We’ve also seen Cooper abusing his position in attempts to benefit his solar crony pals and campaign donors.

If North Carolina is to take advantage of real markets for advanced manufacturing, it must be done in ways consistent with the free market principles this state and nation were founded upon. State government has no right to leverage the taxpayers to pick winners and losers, especially when the winners are really just connected cronies looking for handouts to make their business viable.

Unfortunately, this is just a drop in the bucket of Cooper’s recommended ‘investments.’

According to N.C. House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell, “The Governor’s budget is purely a campaign document that is fiscally unrealistic and irresponsible. It takes our state backwards and threatens our future by raising taxes on hardworking North Carolinians while adding record debt and spending to expand entitlements and failed government programs.”

Fortunately, the Republican majorities in the General Assembly still have control of the purse strings.

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