Big Solar’s waaambulance is getting crowded with out of state lobbyists and welfare queens, I mean solar distributors, lining up to attack the Louisiana Public Service Commission and particularly Commissioner Eric Skrmetta. As I pointed out yesterday, this coalition of rent seekers and welfare queens is unhappy with a PSC study that shows how Big Solar has been ripping off the taxpayers of Louisiana through their subsidies.
The latest out of state Big Solar group to attack the PSC and Commissioner Skrmetta is a group called The Alliance for Solar Choice. Here’s what TASC sent out yesterday:
BATON ROUGE, La., March 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — This week, Acadian Consulting Group issued a biased study attacking rooftop solar in Louisiana. The author, David Dismukes, is a well-known advocate for the fossil fuel industry and an outspoken critic of renewable energy. The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and several state-based groups are calling on the Public Service Commission to denounce the draft study because of Dismukes’ and Acadian’s demonstrated bias.
Acadian and Dismukes’ clients include utilities such as Entergy and Cleco, and oil and gas companies. Dismukes has taken money from oil industry front groups to fund numerous anti-renewable studies, served as an expert witness for more than a dozen oil and gas companies, and commented publicly on his support for fossil fuel subsidies.
“The PSC owes Louisianans more than policymaking based off the work of a fossil fuel front man,” said TASC Co-Chairman Bryan Miller. “Louisiana voters deserve energy choice in the form of rooftop solar, and they continue to demand it.”
Last July, TASC and several advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission because Dismukes’ exclusive representation of fossil fuel groups and regulated utilities create alarming conflicts of interest. The complaint also addressed ethical concerns surrounding Dismukes’ and Acadian’s past work products. Public Service Commissioner and then-Chairman Eric Skrmetta, known for taking a high percentage of contributions from the entities he regulates, ignored those concerns last year and is now using the study as an anti-solar lobbying tool.
Utility monopolies are using the biased Dismukes study to attack a fundamental rooftop solar policy called net metering. Net metering exists in 44 states and gives solar customers fair credit for the excess energy they provide to the grid. Utilities want to roll back net metering to eliminate rooftop solar competition and protect their monopolies.
In September, the Mississippi Public Service Commission produced a study from a reputable, objective consulting firm that shows net metering provides a financial benefit to all ratepayers and helps keep electricity rates low. All of the recent independent studies by state regulators show that net metering is a financial benefit to all ratepayers.
Once again, there was no attempt to refute the actual study, but instead more character assassination against Eric Skrmetta and David Dismukes. The reason TASC and other Big Solar welfare queens don’t want the legislature to consider this study is because they’re afraid the legislature might look at ending Big Solar’s $200 million worth of tax credits instead of further cutting LSU and other universities.
Who are The Alliance for Solar Choice? Essentially, they’re a lobbying organization for Big Solar that is funded by the leading Big Solar welfare queens.
The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) leads the rooftop solar advocacy across the country. Founded by the largest rooftop companies in the nation, TASC represents the vast majority of the market. Its members include: Demeter Power; Silevo; SolarCity; Solar Universe; Sunrun; Verengo; and ZEP Solar.
A couple of these rent seekers and welfare queens masquerading as legitimate businesses are interesting. SolarCity for example is the brainchild of Elon Musk. Musk is also the founder of Tesla motors and Space X, both of which rely on corporate welfare to survive. SolarCity finds itself under investigation in Oregon for using prison labor to build solar panels. Elon Musk’s entire “business model” appears to be based on chasing corporate welfare. Musk is just a billionaire welfare queen.
Both SolarCity and SunRun are facing lawsuits in California over deceptive marketing practices. Both companies have been accused of overstating cost savings.
Besides the subsidies, these rent seekers are also seeking to have their excess power sold back into the grid at retail rates. This makes about as much sense as me growing tomatoes and demanding the local supermarket buy them at retail instead of wholesale prices. If the supermarket was stupid enough to agree to my demands, prices would have to be raised on other items. This would bankrupt many of the smaller rural co-ops that many Louisianians rely on to meet their power needs.
One of Skrmetta’s fellow PSC members shares his point of view. In comments to The Hayride, Commissioner Scott Angelle, who is running for governor, defended the study:
“A comprehensive study of this important issue has been long overdue. Prior to this first of a kind Louisiana specific study, numbers and figures were being tossed around in this discussion with no way to gauge ratepayer fairness. I’ve said before that public policy should always be guided by research. That is why I strongly advocated for this study to be commissioned. I am in the process of further reviewing the research, but it would appear that the retail reimbursement rate is problematic non-solar customers.”
Instead of engaging in character assassination of Eric Skrmetta, many who claim to care about poor and working class Louisianians should thank Skrmetta for fighting for them against the corporate greed and rent seeking of the welfare queens of Big Solar.
UPDATE 4:31 PM: Commissioner Eric Skrmetta had this for The Hayride:
“I am working for the consumer. The commission will not bow to a bullying special interest that does not like the results of an independent report. Louisiana simply can’t afford a $200+ million subsidy with a negative impact of $89 million. Especially, one that is not fair to all ratepayers.”