The dismantling of the support that solar enjoyed from the Department of Energy (DOE) for the past eight years started mere hours after the electoral college apportionment was tallied in the presidential election, led by Mike McKenna, a legendary Washington D.C.-based utility- and fossil-fuel lobbyist.
DOE employees were told Wednesday morning to expect visits from the Trump transition team, and shortly thereafter some employees were already meeting with their counterparts from the Trump campaign to start the exchange of ideas that will likely culminate in a total overhaul of department starting next year.
McKenna will be overseeing the transition, paving the way for the widely expected (by Washington insiders) appointment of Harold Hamm as the Secretary of Energy. Hamm is currently the CEO of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma-based company that touts itself as “America’s Oil Champion.”
McKenna, president of MWR Strategies was handpicked by President-elect Donald J. Trump in late September to oversee the transition of the DOE from its current administrators to the ones who will run the department under Trump’s presidency.
If McKenna’s record is anything to judge by, the solar industry will have a tough time getting support from the DOE in the near future. MWR’s biggest current client is Tampa Electric Co. (TECO), which was one of four sponsors of Florida’s recently defeated anti-solar Amendment 1. Through the third quarter of 2016, TECO paid McKenna’s firm $120,000.
TECO is also MWR’s longest-running client. It has been an MWR client since the company’s founding in 2004.
Also in MWR’s portfolio are Southern Co. (the country’s second largest utility based on customer base — and also a sponsor of Amendment 1), Competitive Power Ventures (primarily a natural-gas purveyor, although it has some renewables in its portfolio) and French energy conglomerate Engie (which also has a mix of natural gas and renewables in its portfolio).
Perhaps the client that should most strike fear into the hearts of solar providers, however, is Koch Industries, a billion-dollar petroleum distributor run by the definitively anti-solar Koch brothers Charles and David. Their contract with McKenna started in the second quarter of 2008 and ended in the second quarter of 2016.
MWR’s revenues since 2004 currently stand at $474 million, an average of $59.3 million per year. Aggregately, the firm has derived 79.1 percent of its overall revenues from utilities and oil-and-gas interests, or $46.8 million per year.
In other words, McKenna is the perfect fox to run the DOE’s henhouse for utilities and fossil-fuel conglomerates — and the solar industry is in for a bumpy ride.
Information on lobbying revenues and revenue breakdowns come from the Center for Responsive Politics.