Big Solar has been trying to destroy Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta. Skrmetta’s crime is simply this, standing up for Louisiana ratepayers and businesses against the Obama Administration’s and the environmentalist movement’s push to adopt expensive, heavily subsidized, and boutique energy sources like rooftop solar. They failed to defeat Skrmetta at the ballot by putting up fake Republican Forest Wright, now Big Solar is resorting to character assassination.
Big Solar is pissy at Skrmetta because he dared to e-mail a PSC study to legislators that showed rooftop solar subsidies and net metering were costing Louisiana a fortune, to the tune of a net loss of $89 million according to the study.
Big Solar can’t have this so they resorted to character assassination against Skrmetta. The group leading the charge is a West Coast based solar advocacy group called TUSK, or Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed. They claim to be conservatives and free market supporters, but they’re pushing one of the most heavily subsidized energy sources in the country. Here’s what TUSK sent out in an e-mail:
A Public Service Commissioner beholden to monopoly utilities and an anti-solar research group are behind efforts to limit energy choice in Louisiana. A draft study just released by David Dismukes of Acadian Consulting Group, a consultant chosen by the Public Service Commission in a perplexing manner last April, provides a biased look at the costs and benefits of net metering – a policy which has allowed thousands of Louisianans to save money on their electric bills by producing their own solar power.
“This study is a blatant attempt to undermine the rights of Louisiana residents and to prevent the growth of the solar industry,” said Barry Goldwater, Jr., Co-chairman of Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK).
Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta has been leading the charge against home-grown energy options and net metering in Louisiana, on the heels of an election in which utilities contributed significantly to his campaign. Electric utilities in the state, including Entergy, have donated more than $36,000 to Skrmetta in the last two elections.
Dismukes, is an associate director at the Center for Energy Studies at LSU which has received over $1 million in funding from Entergy. Dismukes is well-known for authoring pay-for-play studies for fossil fuel interests and questionable ethics related to these studies, including extreme attempts to evade a subpoena in one case.
“An organization that has such close ties to the utility industry can hardly be expected to write an objective report on solar energy, said Goldwater. “Louisiana’s Public Service Commissioners should recognize the influence those ties have on the findings in the study.”
Net metering is a policy in place in 44 states. A study commissioned by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in 2014 concluded that net metering is a benefit to all ratepayers and puts downward pressure on rates.
TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) was formed because conservatives believe energy choice, not government taxes, should determine America’s energy future. TUSK’s Chairman is former U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. Goldwater, like his father, has for decades stood for conservative values and free markets. He also pioneered congressional research into solar technology when he served as a member of Congress.
First, about that Mississippi study, rates are expected to go up 40% for Mississippi Power customers so I don’t think Mississippi is good argument for lower rates. Also, notice TUSK did not refute the conclusions of the study itself, they launched the tired attack that Skrmetta and Dismukes are pawns of the utility companies. Since they can’t argue that solar is a heavily subsidized, boutique source of energy; they resort to character assassination.
Joining the character assassination is WWL-TV with this story:
But what wasn’t expected was the way the report was released. Rather than being published by the Public Service Commission that hired Dismukes, a draft of the report was sent out in an email to legislators by Eric Skrmetta, a commissioner who was narrowly reelected last fall against solar advocate Forest Bradley-Wright.
The solar industry poured big money into trying to unseat Skrmetta, and the monopoly utility companies gave just as much to try to keep him in place. If Bradley-Wright had won, it would have shifted the balance of power on the commission in favor of four commissioners who have, at least at times, supported alternative energy initiatives.
Skrmetta’s email to legislators Tuesday reads like a literary victory dance. He told legislators that the Dismukes report “demonstrates that Louisiana has lost <-$89,0000,000.00> (net present value) due to the impact of solar subsidies.”
Except as Skrmetta told The Hayride this morning, that’s not how it went down. The report was released on Friday and Skrmetta e-mailed the legislators on Monday. Skrmetta is asking for a retraction from WWL-TV.
Here’s the real question that needs to be asked is why doesn’t Big Solar want this study released to the legislature. The answer is obvious which is that it confirms what many of us have suspected for sometime which is Louisiana’s overly generous solar subsidies and net metering provisions are little more than a scam. They subsidize wealthy Louisianians at the expense of poor Louisianians. Big Solar wants to keep its corporate welfare and to do that, Eric Skrmetta must be destroyed.