Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) fought for the passage of legislation in both the state General Assembly and the United States Congress that has financially benefitted her relatives.
As a member of North Carolina’s General Assembly in 2007, Hagan helped pass legislation that required all investor-owned utilities in the state to utilize renewable energy resources for 12.5 percent of their energy needs.
Hagan used her work to pass the law as proof of commitment to renewable energy such as solar panels
"As a state senator, I worked with stakeholders across the state to help make North Carolina the first and only state in the Southeast to require utilities to utilize renewable energy," said Hagan.
Founded as a result of the law was a company called Green State Power, a solar panel developer based in Greensboro, N.C., which was Hagan’s district.
The CEO of Green State Power is Tilden Hagan, the senator’s son. The other listed managers of the company are the senator’s husband Charles Hagan and son-in-law William Stewart, according to the most recent filing with the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. Its address on the filing is the law office headed by Hagan’s husband.
Green State Power likely would not exist without that legislation, which forces companies such as North Carolina energy giant Duke Energy to rely on it for the solar panels needed to comply with renewable energy requirements created by the law.
One recent local report described Green State Power as a "business that would not be here today if it were not for this law."
Speaking on a roof covered in solar panels installed by Green State Power, a reporter stated that "if this state law goes away, then all of this might go away too."
Green State Power was recently designated one of the top solar contractors in the country.
William Yeatman, a senior fellow for energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was not surprised.
"Personal connections are found all too often at the nexus of green energy and government," he said. "Because green energy cannot compete with conventional energy sources, the only way for green energy entrepreneurs to succeed is to rely on friends and family in government to compel Americans to buy their inefficient, expensive products."
Tilden Hagan’s Green State Power has benefited in recent years from federal laws that provide funding for green energy companies and offer tax incentives to its customers.
One solar panel grid installed by Green State Power, for example, was built using funds from a federal grant that came through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Hagan has praised REAP, a program created by the 2008 Farm Bill that was passed before Hagan was serving in Congress.
REAP has funded more than 1,000 solar projects with more than $115 million in federal grants, according to a Taxpayers for Common Sense report on the program.
Another company owned by the Hagan family, JDC Manufacturing, was reported by Politico to be the recipient of $390,000 in grants and tax credits created by the 2009 stimulus law.
Green State Power was on the receiving end of roughly $250,000 of that money, when it was hired for a solar project on a Reidsville, N.C. facility owned by JDC, according to a Carolina Journal investigation.
Hagan consulted with Democratic super-lawyer Marc Elias, and her campaign says that he assured Hagan that she acted within the law regarding the stimulus funds awarded to companies owned by member’s of her family.
Experts still see a problem with the award.
"It strains credulity that federal agencies awarding grants would fail to heed the fact that a given applicant is [related to] a senator, given that the senator controls the purse strings for the agency," said Yeatman.
Neither Green State Power or Hagan’s office returned requests for comment.