The Spectacle Blog

Utilities Lobbying to Raise Your Energy Bills

By on 1.12.11 | 4:53PM

It's no secret that when you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul is enthusiastically supportive. Sometimes the whole idea was Paul's to begin with. Like with carbon dioxide cap-and-trade, cooked up by Enron and BP in the mid-'90s, joined by entities like utility Niagara Mohawk Power (I was in the room), and now run with by all manner of rent-seekers including GE and Goldman Sachs and Al Gore but mostly driven by electric utilities. Including those like Duke Energy run by a fellow who took Ken Lay's philosophy with him when he moved on from his post as Enron executive vice president.

These utilities now poor-mouth that they're just seeking to make the best of a bad, 'inevitable' situation. One that wouldn't exist but for them. Principally, Duke Energy, Exelon, and PG&E among other leading lights hoping to make Obama's vision of 'necessary skyrocketing electricity rates' -- not all of which increase goes to the state, of course -- into reality.

Today in E&E (subscription required) we see an affirmation that, despite rumors that a few good actors were now resolved to stand up to the bad apples, it is still the latter who are running the industry's show in Washington:

Tom Kuhn, [trade group Edison Electric Institute's] president and CEO, said he believes the institute's policy is to support a cap-and-trade regime that limits carbon but provides some free emission allocations for utilities....

"I think that is still our policy."

Expect a lot of explanation from this corner in coming months of precisely how and why these companies have been lobbying for this for years (much of it already packaged here), and aren't simply trying to avoid EPA's regulations that just came into effect. These regs, it is the worst secret in town, were promulgated simply as a cudgel, to create artificial urgency for Congress to 'do something'. Shame, shame.

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