Let's face it - being 'green' is the new cool. But sometimes an ulterior, industry-driven motive lurks behind the 'green halo' that we trust in so-called environmental organizations. This blog is dedicated to keeping individuals and organizations who claim to be for clean, renewable energy accountable.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Utilities Hire Republican Firm to Perform Dirty Tricks

With time running out for the Big Utilities to come up with new lies about Proposition 7 to trick people into voting against it (no pun intended in light of the upcoming holiday), they've continued to rely on the fabrication that Proposition 7 excludes small renewable energy producers. And I use the word 'fabrication' deliberately – neither the independent, non-partisan legislative analyst’s office nor the attorney general, nor in fact, any other attorney that reviewed Proposition 7, identified the ‘small producer issue’ other than the republican law firm hired by the Big Utilities to create it. It’s important to remember that the republican law firm was hired (at great expense) to find a way for the Big Utilities to defeat Proposition 7, no matter how tenuous their argument. Unable to find a real critique of Prop 7 they’ve created issues to confuse and scare voters. It’s not a new campaign tactic.

I thought it would be helpful to post a video of David Freeman explaining just how wrong the Big Utilities and the main stream environmentalist groups they fund are on Prop 7.

Also – just a quick note to say I’ve noticed two things in the last couple of weeks.

(1) Newspapers don’t read initiatives either, apparently. Their articles and reviews mimic the outright lies that the Big Utilities and their shill groups are spreading about Proposition 7. So much for investigative reporting or even the threshold act of fact-checking.
(2) Supporters of Prop 7 are doing a bang up job of calling journalists out for implicitly helping the Big Utilities with their disinformation campaign, and correcting them when they state the facts wrong. I was so excited to see some of these comments that I want to post a couple here, including one mention of the video I’ve included in this post:

“…please note that one of the biggest misconceptions that is still being marketed is that Prop 7 would rule out small businesses and other facilities from qualifying for the Renewable Portfolio Standard because there is a 30 megawatt clause. David Freeman, an authority on energy nationwide, and especially here in California as former head of SMUD and LA DWP, clears this up unequivocally in his testimony to the Joint Legislative Hearing on Prop 7, "Prop 7 changes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about what size can qualify. The opponents fail to distinguish between "facilities" which count toward the RPS without any size limitations, and "plants" over 30 megawatts - for siting purposes only - will be approved by the Energy Commission....the 30 megawatt distinction applies to plants which do not need an Energy Commission permit in the first place."

I'd also like to share that Dr. Donald Aitken - physicist, solar architect, former Chief of Research at the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-creator of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is supporting Prop 7 as an uncompensated individual. Unlike, many of the groups opposing Prop 7. Take a look at PG&E's grant list and you will find both political parties along with many others. Prop 7 is looking out for the consumers and the small businesses, unlike our friends from SCE, PG&E and Sempra. Do not be fooled by the millions of dollars they have to spin the "facts" of this initiative and vote Yes on 7.

Great comment! This shows a real citizen-driven democracy! And this one:

Unfortunately, the authors of this editorial don't seem to have taken the time to read the text of Prop 7, or the Legislative Analyst's report on Prop 7. If they had, they would know that Prop 7 does not limit the eligibility of any project based on size. Prop 7 does not change the law on this issue in any way that matters. Moreover, even if it did (for the sake of argument), it would have no negative impact on the small renewable energy market in California. California approved a $3 billion program last year for small solar. And Congress just passed today an 8 year extension of the 30% investment tax credit for solar. These are huge boosts for small solar and are in no way impacted by Prop 7. Prop 7 is not perfect, but on balance it is quite good. It will take us far in achieving much higher levels of renewables, through large- medium- and small-scale renewable energy sources. We need all of these if we are to have a sustainable future.

Both can be found, with the complete article, here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

“Electricity deregulation is a matter of religious faith” says No on 7’s chief economist

I noticed that the No on Prop 7 website has what appear to be several white papers on the economic impacts if Prop 7 passes. These white papers are all predicated with the phrase “economists predict…”

Not surprisingly, these 'white papers' forecast nothing short of a financial apocalypse if Proposition 7 passes. All the doom-and-gloom predictions made me curious about who these ‘economists’ doing all this ‘predicting’ were.

Oops…Looks like what the utility-funded No on 7 campaign meant to say was: The Sacramento-based political consulting firm that has been paid over $100,000 by PG&E, Sempra, and Southern Cal Edison to defeat Proposition 7 predicts…”

True story. The ‘economists’ that the Big Utilities are trying to scare people with is actually a Republican political consulting firm called The Forward Observer that is staffed by Gov. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger advisors. Incidentally, this is not the first measure the Forward Observer was hired by big industry money to defeat

“Californians for Affordable Prescriptions retained Forward Observer to assist in a campaign to support Proposition 78 and oppose Proposition 79 on the November 2005 California statewide ballot. The initiatives were competing measures addressing the cost of prescription drugs in California. The campaign committee sought out Forward Observer to assist in advancing substantive arguments and responding to the opposition.”

Proposition 78 was the measure sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, which was in a tizzy over Proposition 79’s promise to lower prices on prescription drugs for poor people and seniors.

But more interesting than the Forward Observer’s past campaigns may be the Forward Observer’s ‘economists’ themselves.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the remarkable thing to me about looking into who opposes Prop. 7 is the emerging roles that all of these parties played in getting deregulation passed for the Big Utilities. Turns out, the Forward Observer’s economist was right there with PG&E, SDG&E, Ralph Cavanagh of the NRDC, the Democratic and Republican parties, all working together to help Enron and the Big Utilities get deregulation passed in the Legislature.

From a February, 2001 New York Times article:

“…since deregulation began in earnest, this dogma (that market competition makes electricity cheaper) faces a serious real-world failure.

Despite this, many economists still think that electricity deregulation will work. A product is a product, they say, and competition always works better than state control.

"I believe that premise as a matter of religious faith," said Philip J. Romero, dean of the business school at the University of Oregon and one of the architects of California's deregulation plan. Optimists like Romero say the current period is merely an ugly transition, not yet even true deregulation."

Interestingly, S. David Freeman is also quoted in the above article, pointing out something of the obvious to us now:

Deregulation promised much, but at least in California, it hasn't yet delivered, and people lose patience very quickly when the lights go out. As S. David Freeman, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said, "What is the purpose that's being served by going to a system of higher prices, other than satisfying people who believe that the marketplace is better?"

Like all of the No on 7 campaign’s ‘experts’, the Forward Observer’s ‘economists’ were assisting in deregulating California’s electricity market and defending the move even after the lights had gone dark on Californians. And then, as now, S. David Freeman was fighting against the Big Utilities’ lie campaign.

I posed the question in the headline of my blog – What’s with all the inexplicable opposition to Proposition 7, the Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008?” It would seem to me that the Big Utilities are terrified of Proposition 7 because it removes all the loopholes in current law, so that they cannot avoid the mandate to get off dirty fossil fuels and coal, which is cheaper and more lucrative for them. And indeed, every layer of this onion that I unpeel reveals another connection to the Big Utilities.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sempra adds $2 Mil - Total utility spending now $29.5 million

Looks like PG&E and Southern Cal Edison were feeling like they were carrying the entire financial burden in defeating Proposition 7. Until now, these two utility-giants had each contributed over $13 million to defeat Proposition 7, while Sempra kicked in just over $100,000.

With Election Day just three weeks away, and most of their war chest already spent on television ads, Sempra has thrown down an additional $2 million dollars to defeat Prop 7, bringing the Big Utilities’ total spent, so far, to $29.5 million. They must be really scared.

$2 million dollars is just enough for a state-wide ad buy. It will be interesting what the Big Utilities come out with next. They’ve been hiding behind environmental front groups and running non-stop smear commercials for months now, and yet they’ve refused to release the results of a single poll.

Stay tuned.

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