Koch Brothers Fund Effort To Undermine Tea Party Support Of Solar Energy in Georgia

On Thursday, the Georgia Public Service Commission will decide whether to require Georgia Power, the state’s sole investor-owned electricity provider, to significantly expand its use of solar energy. The fight to diversify the state’s power supply has united some unlikely bedfellows — namely, renewable energy advocates and leaders of the Atlanta Tea Party.

Tea Party members supporting the solar expansion see it as a simple free market issue. They believe consumers have the right to choose where their electricity comes from and shouldn’t be forced to remain dependent on a single source, especially in light of the rapidly declining cost of solar.

Despite the Tea Party’s support, Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, came out against the proposed solar measure last week — launching what it calls “a multi-pronged, grassroots driven initiative” urging activists to pressure members of the PSC to reject the solar expansion.

In an email to its 50,000 members across the state, AFP Georgia director Virginia Galloway asks, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”

On its website, AFP calls the measure “renewable energy mandates” and cites the Institute for Energy Research to support its claim that “utility bills are as high as 40% higher, on average, in states with a renewable energy standard than in states without one.”

This is wrong on multiple counts. First, a Center for American Progress analysis shows that state renewable energy standards have no predictable impact on electricity rates. Second, Georgia PSC allowing solar to enter the marketplace in a competitive manner is not a mandate.

An Associated Press review concurs, determining the group “used misleading figures to build its case.”

In a response email titled “Distortions and Deception,” Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson of the Atlanta Tea Party reiterate their support for “deploying solar in a conservative way” and call out recent hypocrisy and misinformation:

There are those that criticize solar for what happened with Solyndra and attempt to paint all solar the same. Yet these same people don’t raise a peep about the subsidies Southern Company receives — CWIP, Nuclear Finance Fees, Fuel Recovery Charges, Natural Gas Conversion Costs, the NEW Rate Increase, Nuclear Cost Overruns, and that’s after GA Power gets billions of nuclear production tax credits over the 60 year nuclear reactor life expectancy (for their nuclear power plants like Vogtle). Conservatives need to be consistent with their arguments. We fully support all energy sources including coal, nuclear, natural gas, wind, and solar. We just don’t believe it is responsible to be completely reliant on one or two energy sources to generate needed electricity.

Americans for Prosperity’s anti-solar campaign in Georgia is just one of many Koch-backed efforts across the country working to deny the existence of global warming, stop the regulation of pollution from coal-fired power plants, and dismantle successful state renewable energy legislation.

For example, AFP spent $2.4 million in 2011 and another $6 million in 2012 on media campaigns to play up the Solyndra bankruptcy in key election states. Political fact-checking organization PolitiFact labeled the ads “mostly false.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded organization, has been working with the Heartland Institute to roll back state’s renewable energy standards, though their efforts thus far have failed in Kansas, North Carolina, Colorado, among others.

A new report from American University investigated the widespread political, policy, and educational influences of the Koch brothers — specifically the link between the overwhelming lack of nationwide action on climate change and Americans for Prosperity’s “No Climate Tax Pledge.” As the New Yorker reports, “since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.”

Contrary to AFP’s alarmist rhetoric, longtime Georgia Public Service Commissioner and Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald sees enhanced access to solar energy as “an opportunity for the consumers.” After Georgia Power’s initial 20-year plan included no new provisions for solar energy, McDonald put forth his own proposal, requiring Georgia Power to add another 525 MW of solar power.

Thursday’s vote to amend Georgia Power’s plan requires a majority of commissioners in favor of the solar expansion, a threshold advocates are working hard to secure. Dooley tells Climate Progress that despite AFP’s misinformation campaign, which “was based on misleading data and was not accurate,” most of the Tea Party activists she works with support the proposed solar plan because they see it as a “way to help protect the environment, give consumers choice and in the long-term help lower their rates.”

10 Responses to Koch Brothers Fund Effort To Undermine Tea Party Support Of Solar Energy in Georgia

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Intriguing to see the Reptilicans breaking into factions, and the Tea Party Mad Hatters seeming to actually believe in the ‘Free Market’ malarkey. Add terminally credulous to their list of character traits-they may, indeed, be as dumb as they look. Good to see the Kochtopus entering the fray to discipline these turbulent plebs. With luck they might do real damage to one another. And is it not yet another wonderful example of how a sham capitalist ‘democracy’, where real power rests with the rich, and where there is no effective restraint on the behaviour of the moneyed elite, can become not just malevolent in its social and economic dispensation, and its foreign aggressions, but plainly suicidal in its drive to place short-term gain for its elites over medium and long-term survival for all its people. In itself this is staggering, to see a society pushed to destruction by a tiny cabal of its very worst members, but when, at the same time, it loudly and incessantly proclaims itself the glory of and the exemplar for the entire planet, well, then it gets kinda blackly mirth-inducing.

  2. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The Koch brothers are learning that you never know how your children will turn out, ME

  3. Ribeekah Grant says:

    You’re asking the parasitic oligarchy to lift their heads out of the corporate trough. That’s asking a leopard to change its spots.

  4. Leif says:

    I have a 2.25 kW Solar array here in the PNW and I love it. WA has a well designed production credit that is a voter supported tax and pays me ~10% ROI. (Show me that on Wall Street.) The program sunsets in 2020 at which time my investment will ~ equal what a similar system will cost a 2020 investor. In the mean time my array pays for all the modest electricity I use including winter heat, all my propane for cooking and hot water, and my yearly gas for my modest driving in my Honda Fit! On top of all that I still have a couple of hundred $ sitting on the table. My early investment has lowered the current cost to all other residents about what my production pays me. Washington State gets green power, a better trained work force as well as the infrastructure to build the components and the jobs installing same. (I changed the dippers of one of the installers of my system.) Solar is a WIN-Win all the way around and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Go GREEN, resistance is fatal to Earth’s life support systems
    Efficiency first then renewable energy will go further. Of course the GOP are opposed to both.

  5. catman306 says:

    The Koch brothers just do the bidding of 10 big families and the international corporations which they own, who really control the world’s economy since long before America was a country. Rothschild would be the name of one such family.

    Ultimately, we have them to blame for creating the Ponzi scheme that has caused climate change through the burning of fossil fuel for profit.

  6. deco says:

    Long-term Georgia Public Service Commissioner and Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald’s to see enhanced solar energy “for the consumer the opportunity.” Houqiaozhiya power company originally planned for 20 years, including solar energy, no new regulations McDonald’s own proposals, Georgia Power requirements to add another 525 megawatts of solar power plants.

  7. William A Weeks says:

    The transparent goal of the Koch brothers and their ilk is to simply use their accumulated wealth how they want with impunity. The only thing standing in their way is majority rule. There is no one to blame other than us, the largely non-voting public. The complaining and efforts to fix this situation need to be directed at the cause of the illness. Inspire voter participation. Use the attacks on voting rights as an inspiration to increase voter turn out.

  8. Paul Vincelli says:

    Three speakers that help to bridge the ideological divide on climate change.

  9. John McCormick says:

    Mulga, your comment is a keeper. Thanks.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You are too kind, but thanks. It’s my therapy, when it’s too cold or wet to go out into the garden.