November 27, 2012

Skeptics blast study making energy claims

Gov. LePage cited the report in an effort to change renewable-energy mandates in Maine, but critics say it was backed by fossil-fuel interests.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Maine Gov. Paul LePage

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

Gabe Elsner, co-leader of the Checks and Balances Project, a group in Washington, D.C., that aims to "expose the fossil fuel industry agenda against renewables," told the Portland Press Herald on Monday that the Beacon Hill Institute's report has been pushed in 11 other states by groups belonging to the State Policy Network.

"These groups are pushing out seemingly different reports all advocating for the elimination of clean-energy laws," Elsner said. "All have been written by (Beacon Hill)."

David G. Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, told The Washington Post that the Koch funding had no impact on the report's conclusions.

Tuerck said other Beacon Hill donors had asked to remain anonymous.

The lack of transparency is the problem, Elsner said, and state lawmakers who review model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council may have no idea that the study used to support a bill to repeal renewable-energy mandates was partially funded by fossil-fuel interests.

He called the effort by the council and Beacon Hill "a one-two punch against clean-energy laws."

Asked about the source of his group's funding, Elsner said Checks and Balances actively seeks support from green-energy groups like Renew American Prosperity Inc.

Elsner said the Beacon Hill Institute's study was flawed, perhaps purposely, because it based its calculations on assumptions that renewable-energy prices projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration were too low and that states wouldn't enforce built-in cost containment measures.

Jeremy Payne, with the Maine Renewable Energy Association, expressed hope that past bipartisan resistance to repeal or change Maine's renewable-energy mandate will continue despite the study and the model legislation.

Democratic lawmakers have traditionally supported renewable energy, specifically wind energy. The Legislature's incoming Democratic majority is unlikely to buck that trend.

Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, the incoming Senate majority leader, said he hopes that lawmakers will consider "independent, well-reasoned studies rather than those supported and funded by specific interests."

"The fact is, independent studies have shown that the (renewable-energy mandate) is a winner for Maine and helps bring economic growth to rural parts of the state," Goodall said.

This story has been corrected to attribute a statement about the flaws of Beacon Hill study to Gabe Elsner.  

Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

 

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