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Utilities Try to Harness Net Metering in Washington State

By Roy L. Hales, CleanTechnica and ECOreport

The latest attempt to curtail net metering just occurred in Washington state. If HB 2176 had passed, utilities companies would have been able to obtain control of “leased energy” programs. Only the bill has been returned to committee, which, as this session is over, means it is dead.

A passage in HB 2176 states, “If an electric utility offers a leased energy program, no other entity may offer leases to the utility’s customers.”

The utilities made a total of $400, 588 in campaign contributions during the last election. Most of that came from PacifiCorp ($216,850) and Puget Sound Energy ($123,200), both of which are members of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), an association that represents all US investor-owned electric companies.

EEI recently published a booklet which identified “Distributed energy resources (DER) as (p 4) the largest near-term threat to the utility model.” (The best known DER is rooftop solar.)

EEI has also been active in the attempt to defame the rooftop solar industry through attack ads in both Colorado and Arizona.

A company that Mother Jones called “one of the nation’s most powerful—and least known—corporate lobbies” is believed to be closely allied to EEI.

The American Legislature Exchange Council (ALEC) attempts to work through state lawmakers. Its model legislation for use against rooftop solar has been traced to bills in 13 states.

Both PacifiCorp and its parent company, MidAmerican, were members of ALEC up until recently.

Jeffrey Morris, the author of HB 2176, received contributions from PacifiCorp, Puget Sound Energy, BP North America, and a number of gas companies.

PacifiCorp and Puget Sound Energy obtain a substantial proportion of their derived energy (79% and 48%, respectively) from natural gas and coal.

The oil and gas sector contributed $489,764 in the last election.

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