AIM exec responds on green programs
Criticizes programs of “questionable benefit”
AIM appreciates substantive debate on issues as important as the high cost of energy in Massachusetts. But the recent posting in Commonwealth magazine by Lisa Capone, the assistant secretary of communications and public affairs at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, is disappointing in its grasp of the issues.
Capone attempts to rebut arguments that AIM never made in its Nov. 28 article “Consensus emerging on green energy.” Her ad hominem representation of AIM’s position on numerous issues is false. And the “facts” she cites are either incorrect or verify our initial points.
Capone spends an inordinate amount of time accusing AIM of flip-flopping in our support for energy efficiency. The only problem is that the Nov. 28 AIM article was not about energy efficiency, but about state-mandated programs of questionable benefit diverting money out of the productive economy.
While efficiency measures create measurable results, the same cannot be said of other programs developed under the Massachusetts Green Communities Act, including net metering, long-term contracts for renewable energy, smart grid, additional RPS categories, utility-owned solar, and solar carve outs. These programs are either of questionable benefit or run so inefficiently and without any accountability or review that their added costs will wipe out any benefit from energy savings.
These are the programs that contribute unnecessarily to the $4 billion of additional costs that Attorney General Martha Coakley, the statutory ratepayer advocate, cited in testimony on Beacon Hill. The Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources (DOER) does not dispute the attorney general’s numbers.
AIM supports cost-effective, competitively bid renewable projects and other programs that demonstrate real results at the least cost to ratepayers.
Capone’s claims about impressive job gains in the so called “clean-energy sector’ – a rhetorical sleight of hand suggesting that industries that don’t fit the administration’s political agenda are somehow “unclean” – prove AIM’s point about the problem of government picking winners and losers. Could it possibly be that the anemic growth in the so called non-clean energy sector cited by Capone is partly due to the imposition of more than $1 billion worth of electricity cost increases under Green Communities in order to transfer it to favored sectors of the economy? Clean-energy jobs are not being created – just transferred.
Massachusetts deserves an energy policy that treats all ratepayers and companies equally. A diverse economy is more sustainable than one based on government-imposed cross subsidies.
Massachusetts has the highest electricity prices in the nation, almost double the average rate for industrial users, despite the promises that these programs reduce rates. Even a recent 40 percent decline of the cost of natural gas, a key fuel for electricity generation, failed to lower electric rates in Massachusetts. The only way to address the problem is through rigorous, cost-effective, transparent and competitively bid projects and policies that put the consumer first.
These standards benefit all members of the Massachusetts economy. They will bring jobs to all regions of the state, create stable or lower electricity costs, and result in more renewable energy being built in Massachusetts.
- Itemize and maintain a list to share with ratepayers of all added costs for every program instituted since the Green Communities Act was signed;
- Project these costs out over three years;
- Update bill impacts for Cape Wind (now almost triple the original estimate).
Robert Rio is the senior vice president for government affairs for Associated Industries of Massachusetts.