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Utilities Lobbying to Raise Your Rates



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If you were to take this Politico piece from last week, and replace the actors it names with Halliburton and assorted free-market think tanks — you know, groups advocating for less state and more liberty, not those sainted groups pressing for less freedom and more government — you’d have yourself a scandal that the establishment press wouldn’t let go of until, oh, about November 3.

Closed-door meetings between a select group of environmentalists and a handful of electric utility executives may determine the fate of climate change legislation in the Senate.

Several key figures met Monday night at The Caucus Room restaurant to hash out a range of issues, from the distribution of valuable emissions allocations in a utility-only climate bill to the potential retirement of aging coal-fired power plants. But the talks ran aground over the air pollution rules.

At the table for industry: Duke Energy President and CEO Jim Rogers, Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe, Dominion Resources President and CEO Thomas Farrell and PNM Resources Chairman and CEO Jeff Sterba. Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke and David Hawkins, director of the NRDC climate center and a former Environmental Protection Agency air pollution director from the Carter administration, represented the environmental groups.

And, sure enough, today’s Climate Wire has a story that opens thus:

A core group of utility bosses and environmentalists racing to rescue the fading effort to cap carbon emissions has agreed on a number of provisions group members hope will prompt Senate leadership to pursue greenhouse gas reductions at the nation’s power plants. . . .

“We’re kind of giving them our ideas, suggestions and feedback, and they will take it for what it’s worth,” another source said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

The working group has been meeting for more than a week, convening at Duke Energy’s Washington offices, in the Senate with key aides, and at least once over dinner last week at the Caucus Room. Members consist of high-level officials from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Duke Energy, Exelon Energy and others. No details of the memo were released. But its timing comes as Reid considers whether he will include a provision capping utility emissions in a broader energy bill as the chamber faces an expiring work schedule before the summer recess and fall elections.

Remember, whenever you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the enthusiastic support of Paul.



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