Stuck Pigs Are Squealing

This morning the trough-dwellers at the Alliance for Affordable Energy, the leftist organization which has been agitating for a corrupt and wasteful “energy efficiency” program at the Public Service Commission since December and has apparently succeeded with the help of that commission’s newest member – namely, “conservative Republican” Scott Angelle – put out another triumphant press release.

Turns out we at the Hayride play a starring role.

First, a bit of hilarity…

A New Day in Louisiana?

After months of deliberation and language changes, the Louisiana Public Service Commission voted to implement Phase I of the state’s new energy efficiency rules.

When the Louisiana Commission reauthorized the energy efficiency rules on June 26th, they stayed implementation pending final amendments. The most significant revision was allowing utilities and co-operatives to voluntarily determine whether to provide efficiency programs to their customers.  The utilities and cooperatives now have until October 1st, 2013 to formally file their intention with the Commission. Fortunately, just before the vote, the state’s top three electric utilities publicly stated that they will participate.

Yes, you read it correctly – Entergy Louisiana/Gulf States, Cleco, and Swepco stated on the record that they will voluntarily subscribe to the state’s energy efficiency program. This is HUGE! It means that the investor-owned utilities are putting their customers’ interest first by helping them eliminate senseless energy waste and lowering bills. We are on the cusp of a new day in Louisiana. But to make sure the utility companies follow through with their commitments, the public needs to stay engaged…so please stay tuned.

As PSC chairman Eric Skrmetta wrote on this site earlier in the week, the idea that this is a “voluntary” program is a rich one…

Simply put, a new charge on consumers’ bills (at the moment no more than $6.00 per month for residential users and no more than $75 per month for non-residential users) will soon be added. (In addition, Industrial users, who consume more than 50% of the electricity in this state, have better lobbyists than residential and commercial users and are thereby excluded from this program.)

The muddying of the water in this matter is the false presentation of this program as a “voluntary” program for utilities. What is left out of the explanation is that while the program is voluntary, the utilities are guaranteed the right to recoup all costs of the program. And even that is not accurate, or even truthful, as utilities will recover the cost of the program, about $30 million dollars over a 4 year period, AND return on equity – in layman’s terms, profit. Worst of all is the fact that the value of any electricity that utilities end up saving, by not producing it or consuming it, gets to be recovered by the utilities as well. Call it the sale of phantom electricity.

So they get to sell electricity they don’t make and get to charge the ratepayer to recover those costs. You are going to pay utilities not to produce electricity so the green industry can get paid to develop this program.

When you force ratepayers to pay higher rates in order to bribe the power companies to participate in a program, it’s not really an honest statement to call said program “voluntary.” It’s a little like baiting a hook, reeling in a fish and saying that your new piscine acquisition came aboard the boat on his own volition.

And honesty – or the lack of it – will be a theme in today’s discussion.

Because Casey DeMoss Roberts, whose name is on the e-mail blast of AAE’s press release this morning, then turns her attention on your humble correspondents. And she’s a little gripey…

Easiest Job in Louisiana: Fact Checker for The

The Louisiana-based webpage does not seem too concerned about facts when it comes to reporting on the Public Service Commission. They have published a new article that asserts a large number of easily verifiable errors. We will just take some time to cover the most egregious. The Alliance hates the idea that the public is being fed misinformation by this careless publication.

No link to the Hayride article in question is provided, of course, which is (1) impolite and (2) self-serving, since Roberts’ readers are thus denied an opportunity to see both sides of the story – which is about what one can expect.

And now we get to specifics…

CLAIM: “A bureaucracy spending thirty million dollars ($30,000,000.00) of ratepayer money to be spent over the next four years for unspecific purposes for a “Phase 1″ program.”

TRUTHOMETER: Pants on Fire!

According to the rule language that became law in January 2013, and again in June 2013, no bureaucracy would be created. The program is 0.05% of utility sales per year for residential and commercial customers – this is about $21.9 million and it’s only a 2 year program.  Phase I goals are CLEARLY defined in the rules. See page #1 of the LPSC Final Order!

Again – it was the PSC chairman who cited the $30 million over four years. If AAE is calling us liars, they’re calling Eric Skrmetta a liar.

But ask yourself this – are they now claiming that this thing saves money on the $30 million claim – which over four years comes to $7.5 million a year – by citing a cost of $22 million over two years? That’s $11 million a year. That’s more expensive than Skrmetta is pegging this thing to be. And for them to say “it’s only a 2-year program” is tantamount to claiming that the Phase 1 of the program is the only phase that will actually cost anybody money. Maybe the rubes who support AAE will believe that; it’s hard to imagine anybody else would.

As for whether this program will generate bureaucracy and AAE’s claims that it won’t, you can believe that one if you want. Ever see a “green” program that doesn’t contain a bureaucracy? And if it doesn’t cost money to administer the thing, how come it needs a rate increase to fund it?

CLAIM: “AAE and Sierra were going to be third-party administrators for the energy efficiency programs.” and “we’ll have the same crooked “energy efficiency” program which creates the $30 million rice bowl for people like the Sierra Club and the Alliance For Affordable Energy to set up shop and “administer” the thing – which is a nice way to say they’re going to hire left-wing college kids with exotic body art and the fragrance of patchouli oil following behind them to go door-to-door signing people up for things like energy-saver washing machines.”

TRUTHOMETER: Pants on Fire!

Neither the Alliance nor the Sierra Club manages energy efficiency programs. We advocate for them. We at the Alliance have never and will never receive any money from rate-payers, the Commission, or the Utilities for Louisiana’s energy efficiency program. Sierra Club has never and has no plans to get into energy efficiency program management. Also, there will not be any door-to-door canvassing about energy-saving washing machines. (Sorry yall, watchdogging these issues keeps us busy enough.) Customers will be given information about the program but will have to initiate improvements to their home on their own.

Time will tell, won’t it? Just watch to see who the 3rd party administrators of this debacle will be, and wait for the connections to be made manifest.

CLAIM: “Skrmetta had things set, with Angelle’s vote, where the utilities could work a voluntary program with their customers that wouldn’t increase anybody’s electric rates or cost the public a dime.” and “the general idea was that the utilities could offer a program whereby if you wanted to you could get them to buy you a new dryer or refrigerator that would save you money on your electric bill, but your savings wouldn’t be realized until they paid for the cost of the appliance ”

TRUTHOMETER: Pants on Fire!

The Hayride is trying to give credit for Commissioner Angelle’s work to make the program voluntary to Commissioner Skrmetta. Further, there is nothing on record to support the claim that a Utility loan program was being considered and the idea as they present it is ridiculous. Are we to believe that Utilities would just offer to pay the full cost of appliances, give them to customers while generously waiting several years to be paid back interest-free? Where is the capital for such a program going to come from?

The energy efficiency program customers will be getting provides rebates that cover some of the cost when a customer decides to upgrade an appliance to the more energy efficient model. Nice as it sounds in theory, there will be no free appliances!

And this is just to make you smile. Here is a direct quote from the article: “Remember, these are people who will howl about the “greed” of an Entergy who provides the miracle of light. . .” The miracle of light? Hahaha, seriously…where have these guys been for the past 100 years? Lightbulbs are not magical but The Hayride’s claims certainly come from fantasy.

Once again, there is nothing voluntary about bribing power companies to participate in a program funded by an involuntary rate increase on the public. And prior to the recently-passed program and its progenitor passed in December before being shelved, there was nothing preventing the utilities and self-styled do-gooder entities like the Sierra Club and AAE from cooperating to put an EE plan in place that didn’t dig into the wallets of unsuspecting electric customers. If Entergy is willing buy us a new washing machine and gets paid back with a small rate of return through your electric bill, or to subsidize our purchase of it, that’s of no great mention to someone else who doesn’t need an energy-saving new appliance.

But when your rates are hiked to pay for it, does it feel voluntary? Not exactly, right?

Don’t forget – the utility companies practically chew through wood to get a rate increase. They have to do a rate case and the PSC practically imposes the Spanish Inquisition on them before allowing one. This went through without so much as a whimper; once Angelle cooked up the idea of this “voluntary” program – when the only people volunteering are the power companies getting a rate increase without having to work for one – there were three votes for it and the discussion was over. Roberts has nothing whatsoever to say about that.

AAE is squealing pretty loudly, and they’re doing a heck of a job trying to make their people believe others are lying.

But here’s the problem. They’ve already been caught in a provable lie once this week. Forest Wright, the head of that organization, said in another press release that Louisianans are paying some of the highest electric rates in the country. We demonstrated that to be an abject falsehood.

Notice how this morning’s missive had no mention of that? It’s conspicuously absent, seems to us. And that should color your perception of anything else these propagandists say.

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