ALEC’s Plan to Reshape US Energy Policy

As US state legislatures prepare for new sessions, the corporate bill mill, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is turning its attention to influencing electric utility issues. According to ALEC’s 2014 Natural Resource Reserve guide to energy, environment and agriculture model policies states, “The ever-increasing governmental control over energy supply, distribution, and use is threatening not only the nation’s prosperity but also individual liberty.”

ALEC’s energy policy for 2014 involves creating bills to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, increase coal power, and eliminate renewable portfolio standards, thereby “slowing the growth of key elements within the renewable energy sector,” among other initiatives.

The corporate lobbyist has several model resolutions already approved. An investigation by Utility Dive reveals how ALEC’s 2014 agenda could impact the electric utility industry. In December, ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) task force met at its States and Nation Policy Summit to discuss model resolutions for 2014.

Climate Change: According to ALEC, “Efforts by the United States or regions within the United States will not significantly decrease carbon emission globally, and international efforts to decrease emissions have proven politically infeasible and unenforceable.” ALEC has approved 7 model resolutions related to climate change, including one opposing the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Another resolution opposes a carbon tax, and another urge’s one state’s governor to with draw from a climate initiative.

Coal: ALEC created a model resolution that calls on Congress to pass legislation so that “the benefits of coal-fire-generated electricity to Americans and state economies are increased, not decreased; fuel diversity and grid reliability is improved.”

Net Metering: Residents who generate their own electricity, such as solar, get credit through net metering, which ensures that customers receive credit for the clean power they put back on the grid. ALEC believes these customers are instead avoiding paying the grid costs and created a resolution to encourage states to impose “a fixed grid charge or other rate mechanisms that recover grid costs.”

Renewable Energy: ALEC has created more than one bill to eliminate states’ Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). These standards require utilities and electricity providers to provide a certain amount of their total energy from renewable sources, and are meant to encourage renewable energy generation.

Last year, ALEC introduced legislation aimed at eliminating RPS in 13 states, and the legislation failed to pass in every instance. It can only be hoped that 2013 is an indicator of ALEC’s waning legislative influence. Over the past two years, at least 49 global corporations have dropped their ALEC membership, although oil and gas companies have stood by the group that created bills to benefit the fossil fuel industry.

Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.

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