Found on Twitter is the next chapter in Arizona’s ongoing lewd history of utility manipulation of policy decisions. But this should not be considered the end, and is far from the first.
Regressive utilities have frequently employed over-the-top tactics in recent years in their struggle to maintain their monopolies, including the use of “political jiu-jitsu” to trick people into voting against solar, or the more recent case of a contractor hired by Entergy New Orleans paying actors to show up to a meeting and boo solar power.
Such tactics are particularly common in Arizona, where we have a governor fighting the inevitable by trying to tell utilities they can ignore the law, utilities settling Supreme Court-bound lawsuits challenging their monopoly power, politicians offering competing clean energy initiative which confuse voters and FBI investigations into the potential illegal funding of races for state regulatory positions.
According to research by Energy and Policy Institute, Arizona’s largest electric utility – APS – has donated more than $1 million to the groups pushing the ads seen below:
A key point that must be reiterated is that this is not an isolated action, it is simply one that is getting attention.
Currently, federal energy policy development is also heavily under influence of the coal industry. And despite repeated efforts to force a bailout of coal and nuclear power plants, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has stated that “there is no immediate calamity or threat to our ongoing ability to have our bulk power system operate and satisfy our energy needs.”
If you are a clean energy professional, you’ve come to understand this as the environment we exist within. While the political clout of clean energy groups is growing – as evidenced by many legislative victories – we are still in a world in which #ExxonKnew, and where politicians are heavily funded by private industry – including at times those industries that they regulate.