Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Corporatism Goes to War Against Clean Energy
In the United States, corporatism's own 'special forces command' is known as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is the command centre from which marching orders are issued to its shock troops, America's 'bought and paid for' Congress. Now ALEC is marshalling its forces to go to war against clean energy, especially homeowners who have the temerity to fit their homes with solar energy panels. They've even coined a pejorative name for these upstarts - 'freeriders.'
Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama's main channel for climate action.
Details of Alec's strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week.
About 800 state legislators and business leaders are due to attend the three-day event, which begins on Wednesday with appearances by the Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson and the Republican budget guru and fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.
Documents obtained by the Guardian show the core elements of its strategy began to take shape at the previous board meeting in Chicago in August, with meetings of its energy, environment and agriculture subcommittees.
In November, Arizona became the first state to charge customers for installing solar panels. The fee, which works out to about $5 a month for the average homeowner, was far lower than that sought by the main electricity company, which was seeking to add up to $100 a month to customers' bills.
Gabe Elsner, director of the Energy and Policy Institute, said the attack on small-scale solar was part of the larger Alec project to block clean energy. "They are trying to eliminate pro-solar policies in the states to protect utility industry profits," he said.
For 2014, Alec plans to promote a suite of model bills and resolutions aimed at blocking Barack Obama from cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and state governments from promoting the expansion of wind and solar power through regulations known as Renewable Portfolio Standards.