For Thanksgiving from GreenTechMedia: The 5 Biggest Clean Energy Turkeys of 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   November 28, 2013  /   Posted in Biofuels, Net Metering  /   No Comments

The 5 Biggest Clean Energy Turkeys of 2013

The 5 Biggest Clean Energy Turkeys of 2013

Who’s the biggest turkey of them all?

Stephen Lacey
November 26, 2013

Creating year-end lists is usually an exercise in positive thinking and congratulatory back-slapping.

But as the popularity of this year's list of deceased solar companies showed us, GTM's readers are far more interested in the morbid and the sarcastic.

In celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday, here is our list of 2013's top five turkeys. We trust that our readers will add more in the comment section below.

1. Fox News

Fox News easily wins biggest turkey of the year. The media firm (many find it hard to call it a news organization) has perfected the art of spin and fake hype better than anyone. Ever since the Obama administration made clean energy a priority, the industry has been the target of Fox personalities. Here are a few of Fox News' greatest hits of the year:

-- In February, Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi claimed that Germany has become a world leader in solar because the country has "a lot more sun than we do." It didn't take long for her to make a correction after viewers and bloggers pointed out that Germany's solar resources are comparable to Alaska's.

-- In March, Fox & Friends aired yet another segment claiming that "solar power is tanking our economy." They forgot to mention the U.S. solar market was worth $11.5 billion last year, and it is set to double 40 years' worth of solar capacity over the next 2.5 years.

-- And in May, Fox Business reporter Elizabeth MacDonald randomly claimed that Tesla's battery "conks out after about 16 miles." The number appeared to be completely made up. She later had to apologize, saying she "gave incomplete information."

2. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

In 2012, ALEC made it an explicit goal to write legislation designed to kill or weaken state-level renewable energy standards (RES). In 2013, it ramped up its efforts and helped push anti-RES bills in thirteen states.

None of them passed, and very few gained any traction. ALEC's record this year was 0 for 13.

The "stealth business lobbyist" may be pulling in money from Exxon Mobil, the Koch Brothers, Peabody Energy and other fossil fuel interests with a less-than-enthusiastic view of renewables. But it didn't have the most crucial piece of a winning strategy: a constituency.

As RESs have evolved, they've created a lot of jobs and economic opportunities that encourage people to fight for keeping targets in place. That makes it very hard for ALEC to parachute into states and repeal the laws.

This year may have been a flop for ALEC on the renewables front. But keep tuned in 2014, when the lobbying group plans to take on solar net metering.

3. Congress 

With an approval rating in the single digits, Congress has done a spectacularly good job at doing almost nothing this year. Its single greatest achievement was shutting the government down for sixteen days.

On energy, there were lots of messaging bills aimed at stopping EPA regulations, loosening fracking regulations, building Keystone XL and halting efficiency standards for light bulbs. None of them went anywhere.

The only bill with any chance of succeeding is Shaheen-Portman, which would create a wide range of national efficiency programs. Republicans and Democrats are mostly supportive of the legislation, but it was derailed in September when Senator David Ritter (R-LA) prevented voting unless an anti-Obamacare amendment was approved.

There's a small chance that Shaheen-Portman may still pass the Senate, and possibly the House. But the window of opportunity is closing quickly -- and there's not a lot of hope that members of Congress will pull it together by the end of the year.

4. The biofuels sector

In 2007, the U.S. was riding high on biofuels. The agriculture industry was promising a farming renaissance, startups were promising endless amounts of non-food-based fuels and Congress was promising true energy independence. An update to the renewable fuels standard was passed that year, supported by the George W. Bush administration and mostly left to the Obama administration to execute in 2008.

Five years later, there are virtually no cellulosic fuels hitting the market, forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to drastically scale back targets.

This fall, the Department of Energy's Inspector General issued a report showing that the government had failed to come close to meeting its biofuels targets. A combination of poor market conditions and insufficient reviews of projects plagued the DOE's efforts to scale up advanced biofuels.

In addition, the Obama administration and biofuels industry have come under fire for poor environmental practices. A recent AP investigation showed that the recent push for biofuels had eaten up vast amounts of conservation lands, increased the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and failed to reduce greenhouse gases.

A lot has changed since the exuberance over biofuels that existed in 2007.

5. Arizona Public Service

Arizona's biggest utility didn't make it on the list because of its fight against net metering. It made the list because executives lied about funding an anti-net-metering television campaign that compared solar service companies Sunrun and SolarCity to the bankrupt manufacturer Solyndra.

"APS had nothing to do with the making of or the content of the video," said APS representative Jenna Shaver to GTM in July.

There was one big problem with that statement: APS did, in fact, have something to do with the making of the video campaign. In October, the Arizona Republic reported that APS gave two political groups responsible for the campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Even after getting caught lying about funding outside political groups -- while spending millions more in a broad campaign to limit net metering -- the utility eventually failed to get the changes it wanted.

TAGS: alecarizona public servicebiofuelscongressfox newsnet metering

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Copyright 2013 IndianaDG