These are solar panels on the Washington state capitol.

Utilities Fail to Legislate Washington State’s Net Metering

By Roy L Hales

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 3.43.47 PMThe latest attempt to curtail net metering just occurred in Washington state. If HB 2176 had passed, utilities companies would have been able to obtain control of  “leased energy” programs. Only the bill has been returned to committee which, as this session is over, means it is dead.

There is a passage in HB 2176 that would have enabled utility companies to obtain a monopoly, “If an electric utility offers a leased energy program, no other entity may offer leases to the utility’s customers.”

Though the bill has failed, one has to ask who were the principals behind it.  We can get a pretty good idea by following the political contributions back to source.

Investor owned utilities made a total of $400, 588 in campaign contributions during the last election. Most of that came from PacifiCorp ($216,850) and Puget Sound Energy ($123,200). They are  both members of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), an association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.

EEI has been heavily involved in the utilities vs net metering skirmishes throughout the US. They published a booklet that  identified “Distributed energy resources (DER) as (p 4) “the largest near-term threat to the utility model.” (The best known DER is rooftop solar.) EEI was also been active in the attempt to defame the rooftop solar industry thfrough attack ads in both Colorado and Arizona.

The American Legislature Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that Mother Jones called “one of the nation’s most powerful—and least known—corporate lobbies” is believed to be closely allied to EEI. ALEC attempts to work through state lawmakers and framed a  model for legislation to roll back renewable portfolio standards that was subsequently traced to bills in 13 states.

Both PacifiCorp and its parent company, MidAmerican, were members of ALEC up until recently.

PV at sunset in January 2014
PV at sunset in January 2014

Jeffrey Morris, the author of HB 2176, received contributions from PacifiCorp, Puget Sound Energy, BP North America and a number of gas companies.

PacifiCorp and Puget Sound Energy obtain a substantial proportion of their derive energy (79% and 48%, respectively) from natural gas and coal.

The oil and gas sector contributed $489,764 in the last election.

4 thoughts on “Utilities Fail to Legislate Washington State’s Net Metering”

  1. Wow I have never found a more misinformed piece of literature on the Internet? Shame on you ….embarrassing …Edwin R Murrow was born in my district! Roy Hales stop being a pay per view Internet hack without principles!

    1. Thank you Representative Morris. You sponsored that bill. http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/Representatives/Pages/BillSponsorship.aspx?m=Morris

      Let’s see what the Seattle Times said, “… Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes, last year submitted CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION that WOULD HAVE GIVEN UTILITIES AN OPTION TO CLAIM EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS to offer solar leasing to their customers. Morris is now trying to forge new compromise legislation.” – http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024480919_losinggroundsolarxml.html

      Looking you up at ballotpedia, I see that Puget Sound Energy and Avista listed among your primary campaign contributors but also that the amounts ($1,600 – $1,800) were small.

      This is interesting – “Morris is CURRENTLY the owner of a PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM. Morris was Political Director for United States Representative Al Swift from 1987 to 1993. He is also a past director of NORTHWEST ENERGY TECHNOLOGY COLLABORATIVE. He has worked for APCO Associates in the past as well.” – http://ballotpedia.org/Jeff_Morris

      (I would love to see who your customers and past clients are.)

      On Vote Smart, it says in 2012 cycle your campaign contributions were $66,845. Roughly a third of that came from out of state and most of that from companies and institutions. Puget Sound Energy was one of your top six contributors ($1,800) and there is a total of $3,600 from Electric utilities and $3,050 from the oil and gas sector. http://votesmart.org/candidate/campaign-finance/14077/jeff-morris#.VE-BuChWUjw

      This write up sounds more favourable to you:

      “If you asked Rep. Jeff Morris what his main legislative priority is this year, I would bet good money he would say green energy and infrastructure. If you asked him what he had for breakfast this morning, he would also say green energy and infrastructure. Out of the twenty-one bills he proposed this year, more than half deal with energy or infrastructure.”

      “… some of his legislative efforts to extend natural gas access to rural communities (HB2177 and HB2101) … Morris has proposed legislation to handle who has the authority over interstate power lines (HB1030) and two bills relating to the use of energy storage facilities and how they count toward annual goals of utilities (HB1289 and HB1296). He has also continued his work clarifying the procedures around how new energy facilities are sited (HB1374).

      “Morris has pushed a number of programs to expand access to renewable energy. He introduced a bill that would allow utilities to lease renewable energy systems (solar panels or wind turbines) to customers (HB2176). Similarly, he wants to extend the tax credits and clarify the requirements on community solar projects (HB1138).

      “In a bill clearly responding to a specific situation, Morris proposed a bill clarifying how energy companies can resolve disputes over access to telephone polls (HB2175). He proposed a tax on oil and gas production (HB1856) that would help fund parks, renewable energy and the cost of regulating the oil and gas industry…” – http://sweeneypolitics.com/2014/02/04/rep-jeff-morris-2014-legislative-agenda/

      No, Mr Morris, I don’t charge people to write stories. However I am selective about what I write about. Getting inside your mind might be intriguing, depends how honest you would be.

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