Spearheading the effort is the top energy lobbyist, Edison Electric Institute. Courtesy of the Trump administration, EEI now has close friends in high places. Trump’s energy secretary, dim-bulb Rick Perry, is giving lots of power to his brighter and more knowledgeable chief of staff, Brian McCormack, who used to be the top executive at EEI. McCormack is the head of an energy department study looking into—I’m not making this up—ways renewable energy could be hurting the coal, oil and gas industries. One of the hallmarks of capitalist theory is that competition leads to progress and benefits to consumers, but Perry and the current administration seem to be fond of protective socialism for utility companies.
Perry and the Edison Electric Institute are drawing even more anti-rooftop energy from other powerful sources. ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has written model legislation to end net metering, which can be copied and pasted into state bills by simply filling in a few state-specific blanks. Among the major funders of ALEC are the Koch brothers, Charles and David. And back at the Department of Energy, Brian McCormack has named Travis Fisher, who used to work for the Koch-funded nonprofit, Institute for Energy Research, to head a study on the problems which come from adding renewables to the energy mix. But, according to the department, environmentalists needn’t worry about pro-utility industry bias.