Virginia AG Cuccinelli leads charge to yank renewable energy credits
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be president. He wants it so bad that he can’t drink coffee anymore because all he can taste is the White House. (I just made that joke up; feel free to use it for a small fee.) Last time Cuccinelli appeared in these pages, it was for his tax-dollar-funded campaign to discredit climate scientist Michael Mann. He’s since written a book called The Last Line of Defense which is about the “fight for liberty.” The cover of it looks like marble, which seems like a weird metaphor.
Anyway, part of freedom-fighter Ken Cuccinelli’s plan to fight for freedom and America all the way from Richmond to Washington is revoking renewable energy incentives. Freedom! Eagles! From the Associated Press:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the state’s largest electric utilities are proposing to repeal financial incentives for using renewable energy after a report last year found that the millions of dollars in bonuses haven’t yielded the intended environmental gains and have contributed to increases in customer bills.
Under the agreement announced Tuesday by the attorney general’s office, Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power would no longer be eligible to receive the bonuses called “adders” for using sources of renewable energy or building new power plants that use fossil fuels. Incentives will still remain for nuclear and offshore wind, but the bonuses would be reduced.
The agreement does not, however, repeal the state’s voluntary goals that utilities have 15 percent of their generation coming from renewable sources by 2025. And utilities can still seek to recover the costs related to reaching those goals, officials said.
To be fair — for those of you not enjoying my ad hominem attack — the AP explains that part of the problem lies with the law as constituted.
[T]he report from the attorney general’s office said the utilities have primarily relied on buying renewable energy certificates from existing renewable facilities to receive the incentives allowed by law rather than build any new renewable energy facilities. Overall the report suggested the bonuses be eliminated or significantly changed because they are not meaningfully protecting customers from unnecessary rate increases, not promoting reliable electricity or fuel diversity, and not providing environmental benefits or stimulating economic development.
Several environmental groups also have criticized that part of the law, saying utilities need to do more in order to earn the renewable energy bonuses.
“The standard is flawed, but there’s a clear way to fix that,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. But he said the proposal between the attorney general’s office and the electric utilities is a “radical” and “anti-environmental” step. The group has worked with legislators to introduce other bills to address the incentive program.
For Cuccinelli, this is win-win: Attack an incompletely considered renewable energy boost; drop rates for Virginians; give yourself a pat, one-line statement for the front of a campaign mailer: “Ken Cuccinelli stood up to the radical green agenda.” If you’re a Republican living in Iowa, let us know when you see that in your mailbox. Should be by end of day.