Published on January 16th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor1
ALEC & Xcel Scheming Behind Closed Doors?
Xcel Energy, an active member of the corporate lobbying organization the American Legislative Exchange Council through 2010, quit ALEC in 2011 to avoid negative publicity. The ALEC business model allows corporate lobbyists to pay $7,000 to $25,000 per year to write draft legislation behind closed doors with state lawmakers. State lawmakers then take the corporate lobbyist’s legislation back to the state legislature and introduce it as their own.
Xcel Energy claimed last week in the Boulder Weekly that they no longer participate in ALEC but the utility continues to fund ALEC attacks on clean energy by flowing dark money through their utility trade association.
Publicly Xcel says they value sustainability and renewable energy. The Friends of the Colorado Public Utility Commission call upon Xcel Energy to live up to its values and to stop providing dark money to fund ALEC’s national attack on renewable energy portfolio standards and net metering.
Follow the Money. Each year, the annual Xcel Energy public political contributions report documents payments of more than $300,000 per year to it’s trade association EEI. In turn, EEI provides significant funding to ALEC through ALEC membership, task force dues and conference sponsorship payments. In addition, Xcel’s trade association EEI has been exposed as directly guiding the ALEC attack on clean energy policies. An undercover video captures Edison Electric Institute’s Rick Tempchin confirming that Brian McCormick, EEI’s Vice President for Political and External Affairs, has been working directly with ALEC on their soon to be released net metering resolution. ALEC’s draft net metering resolution (see page 11), written with the assistance of EEI, attempts to influence state law makers and public utility commissions to cut payments that homeowners and businesses receive when they generate solar power for the grid.
A key question for the state of Colorado is- Are Colorado rate payer dollars being used to fund EEI and ALEC attacks on clean energy?
While Xcel implies it has no control over EEI funding of ALEC, in reality, Xcel Energy CEO Mr. Benjamin Fowke III sits on the board of EEI. CEO Fowke’s 2012 compensation from Xcel is $10.9 million, up 13 percent from the previous year.
- Mr. Benjamin G.S. Fowke, III, Xcel Energy, Chairman, President & EEI Board Member
- Mr. Roy Palmer, Xcel Energy, Senior Vice President, Public Policy
- John O’Donnell, Xcel Energy, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs
As an EEI board member, Xcel CEO Fowke has a fiduciary trust to be aware of the activities of EEI including payments to ALEC, and the controversial EEI hiring of Todd Wynn, a former ALEC staff member and director of the ALEC energy task force. Todd Wynn was hired by EEI, in Sept 2013 as the EEI Director of External Affairs.
In his position as the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Director for most of 2013, Wynn spearheaded ALEC’s national attack on Renewable Portfolios Standards (RPS) in 15 or more states.
In an article “ALEC to States: Repeal Renewable Energy Mandates” published Nov 5, 2012 Wynn restates the false claim from ALEC fossil fuel industry members, like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil, that renewable energy is more expensive than coal, “Households in 29 states are and will continue to see higher electricity rates, lower economic growth and, subsequently, lower standard of livings without outright repeal of these crony capitalist policies (renewable portfolio standards)”.
To show respect for the high value that Colorado places on affordable and clean renewable energy, the Friends of the Colorado PUC, calls upon Xcel Energy and CEO Benjamin Fowke to 1) have EEI cancel its ALEC membership to demonstrate that EEI does not support ALEC’s national attack on clean energy and 2) fire Todd Wynn, the EEI Director of External Affairs who according to the ALEC 2013 Annual Meeting- Policy Report was a driving force behind the ALEC campaign to repeal renewable portfolio standards in at least 15 state legislatures.