Follow the Money: SolarCity to Bob Burns

“Follow the Money”

SolarCity, a company who has one of the largest financial stakes in decisions that are made by the Corporation Commission is pouring money into Bob Burns re-election campaign through the AZ “Save Our Az Solar” committee.  From mail pieces and robo calls, to Google and Facebook ads.

What they don’t want Republican voters to know is that they are desperately hoping their candidate makes it out of the Primary so they can team him up with the two Democrats in the General election.

Yes, that’s correct; the SolarCity Dream Team – Bob Burns and the two Democrats.

Oh, how the money and games flow, not quite like the Game of Thrones but still intriguing:
(click on chart)

SolarCity Web

 

 

Links:

Save Our AZ Solar

Energy Choice For America

Kris Mayes appointed to the Energy Foundation’s board of directors

Energy Foundation financials

Scott Hempling’s clients

Dan Barr – Attorney for Checks and Balances

Outside groups target Arizona

SolarCity funded group targeting commission

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Solar Money Buying the Election for Bob Burns?

The past few years have seen an explosion of outside money to aid campaigns. Outside money is not new to politics and has been around since the dawn of democracy. What is new, however, is that much of it can be spent without knowing who is funding it. In the fights over election spending in Arizona, a lot has been made of outside money that the utilities may have given to aid Corporation Commission candidates. The Commission regulates utilities, so it seems to be a fair question. In the newspapers’ zeal to find out everybody’s sources except their own, (which they conveniently feel a 1st amendment right to do) they have launched some serious charges against local utility companies. What they haven’t done is given the same level of scrutiny to solar companies who have used outside money to aid pro-solar commission candidates.

Recently, Chris Mayes, Janet Napolitano’s spokeswoman and a Napolitano appointee to the Corporation Commission, has been leading efforts by solar companies to spend millions of dollars to aid the already largely subsidized solar industry. Voters should be wary when they see mail and hear calls from Mayes and solar dark money so that they don’t fall for the attacks on the current commission or commissioners. The current commission supports Arizona’s renewable energy mandate, which requires the utilities to use a mix of renewable energy already for distribution to Arizona homes. However that does not seem to be enough for the solar industry that wants to make profits off of government tax credits and federal dollars. Conservatives shouldn’t be deceived by claims made by solar alleging that those who want the market to decide the best energy sources are somehow anti-solar. Solar is already a part of the energy mix and will continue to be prevalent for quite some time. How much it should be subsidized by other rate payers is the real question before voters this November. Should a small percentage of solar users get tax credits and raise the cost for other energy users? Voters will weigh in August and November on these critical issues.

Andy Tobin, Al Melvin & Rick Gray Form Team To Run For Corporation Commission


July 20 – (Phoenix, AZ) Republican Corporation Commission candidates Andy TobinAl Melvin and Rick Gray announced that they are running as a team for the three Arizona Corporation Commission seats that are up for election.

“Already being on the Commission I appreciate the importance of quality commissioners who are working together to provide stability to both providers and ratepayers, and that’s what I believe this team will do,” said current Commissioner Andy Tobin.
“As three conservative Republicans who are equally committed to ensuring a plentiful supply of clean and safe water and electricity to our great state, the team approach just made sense,” said former State Senator Al Melvin.

State Representative Rick Gray said, “With our team of Tobin, Melvin and Gray the people of Arizona will have strong leadership that will work to protect the ratepayers while providing affordable, reliable utilities.”

Collectively, Tobin, Melvin, and Gray have all been awarded Friend of the Taxpayer and Friend of the Family awards, and have extensive private and public sector expertise.

Commissioner Bob Stump – Super Hero Fighting For Truth, Justice & Ratepayers

Gotta love Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump!

He’s been through hell and back battling against the leftist faux watchdog group, Checks & Balances. The left-wing villains in this group have launched attack after attack against Stump only to be rejected over and over again by a Superior Court Judge.

The same group has attacked the Arizona Attorney General, a former Solicitor General and every other elected, appointed or law enforcement official who has investigated the false allegations imagined against Bob Stump.

He’s even taken hits by a so-called fellow Republican who may have been infected by the Checks & Balances virus.

But still Commissioner Stump holds his ground for truth, justice and the ratepayer way.

You may laugh at my exaggerated description of what’s been taking place over the last year with the Arizona Corporation Commission but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

The fact is, a battle has been taking place for sometime over who sits on the Arizona Corporation Commission. There are only five seats on the commission which means the left has to capture three in order to seize power and push its green energy agenda.

The Checks & Balances Project has been a key player in this battle putting its weight into frivolous legal challenges and conjuring negative media attention against the Republicans on the Commission. They may have assimilated one already.

This group is part of a vast left-wing network of subsidy-thirsty corporatists disguised as green energy advocates. They’re largely funded by left-wing philanthropists and dark money donors like billionaire Tom Steyer. Their mission is to fundamentally transform US energy policy and that means getting their puppets into key power positions like the Arizona Corporation Commission. Sound familiar?

You can bet candidates like Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell are just who they want to fill two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Both Chabin and Mundell have cloned Big Solar and green corporatists messaging in their campaign themes.

We’re not buying it and neither is Bob Stump. That’s why he’s a super hero to us.

Every time we flip a switch, turn on a light or adjust the thermostat, we’re reminded that common sense commissioners like Bob Stump are holding back the enemies of cheap and efficient energy policy from waging war on ratepayers.

Get that commissioner a cape!

SuperMan Bob Stump

 

Tom Chabin & Bill Mundell – The Clone Candidates

Tom Chabin & Bill Mundell - The Clone Candidates

If you look at the websites of liberal Democrat candidates Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell you’ll see they’re practically clones. They both use header photos from Roosevelt Lake, including a photo of Roosevelt Dam; the language is identical with the exception of their names and the layouts are inverse. Not much creativity and not much diversity.

(Incidentally, Roosevelt Dam is operated by the Salt River Project (SRP) and is not under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Read why here.)

That’s what you’d end up getting on the Arizona Corporation Commission if these two green corporatists get elected in November.

Both campaigns are running exclusively on the message that Arizona Public Service is evil and bazillion dollar deals are taking place in smoky backrooms.

What they won’t tell you is that the leftist-controlled “green” corporations will be working behind the scenes to make these two Democrats carry their agenda.

And what is the agenda of these big green corporations? To keep the flow of ratepayer and taxpayer dollars to the solar industry and other heavily-subsidized green corporations.

These are the companies that have imploded or gone bankrupt like Solyndra, Abengoa and SunEdison.

Don’t be fooled by all the hyperbole rhetoric by Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin over “dark money.” They themselves will be the beneficiaries of dark money as Big Solar dumps millions of dollars into the Arizona Corporation Commission race to get them elected.

For Big Solar and the other green corporatists, it’s about getting votes on the Commission so they can ramrod policies through that hurt taxpayers, ratepayers and cost thousands of jobs.

This election, beware the clone candidates who will open the door wide to disastrous Obama green energy policies right here in Arizona.

 

 

Democrats File Dark Signatures for Arizona Corporation Commission

Tom Chabin Bill Mundell

Yellow Sheets posted the press release of Democrat candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission, Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin.

The subheader for their press release proudly proclaimed, “Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell each file approximately 9,000 signatures.” The 9,000 claim was also posted on Mundell’s FaceBook page. There’s only one problem. That number isn’t correct.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State website, both candidates filed hundreds below the 9,000 number they claimed on their joint press release. (By the way, are Mundell and Chabin running as a team with shared expenditures?) Bill Mundell filed a total of 8,345 while Tom Chabin filed 8,483 signatures – not quite the 9,000 boldly professed.

Hmmmm… For two Democrat candidates running solely on a theme against “dark money,” we have to wonder if their nominating petitions contained hundreds of dark signatures?

Tom Chabin’s Dark Money Past

In the race for Arizona Corporation Commission, there are several candidates who aren’t who they say they are.

One candidate in particular, has made a major part of his campaign platform about running against “dark money.” You see it on his website, social media and in the media.

Tom Chabin Dark Money

Tom Chabin rails about dark money being spent by big power companies. We assume he’s referring to APS and their First Amendment participation in the election process.

What Tom Chabin doesn’t want you to know is that he was the direct beneficiary of  “dark money” during his failed state senate campaign in 2012.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, Chapin was the direct beneficiary of $204,531 from four independent expenditure groups.

Tom Chabin IE Money

America Votes is listed as a labor union organization based out of Washington, DC. On their website, they tout “building progressive power” and partnering with every radical leftist organization in America. During the 2012 election cycle, they spent $127,077 in Arizona to elect Democrat candidates. Chabin was one of those Democrats they attempted to elect. Fortunately, they failed.

Another organization that spent $145,774 to keep Tom Chabin in his $24,000/year legislative seat was the Arizona Accountability Project. On their campaign finance reports, they reported $475,000 funneled from an outside dark money group called Revive Arizona Now. They ended up spending $561,047 on Democrat candidates in 2012.

Chabin also was aided and abetted by two other independent expenditure committees. Citizens for Public Education spent $315 but Revitalize Arizona kicked in $44,318 in an effort to save his re-election. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Revitalize Arizona took in $744,328.47 from another group called Residents for Accountability which Tucson media reported, “that group’s finances are a bit of a Russian nesting doll.” Revitalize Arizona spent $44,318 to re-elect Tom Chabin in 2012.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Revitalize Arizona – “that group’s finances are a bit of a Russian nesting doll”[/pullquote]

Tom Chabin lost his bid for the Arizona State Senate in 2012.

Now Chabin is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission as part of a Democrat team with Bill Mundell.

Chabin and Mundell are running as “Clean Elections” candidates so they won’t be asking for private donations in their race. PAC’s and individuals will still donate and participate in the election under Arizona campaign finance limits. Independent expenditure committees will still attempt to affect the outcome of the race through express advocacy. And we expect non-profit organizations to air issue-ads to “educate” citizens about the issues.

Both Democrats have made it their mission to attack their opponents by alleging Republicans are part of a vast right-wing conspiracy with APS. (They’re not.)

Both Chabin and Mundell are pushing for Big Solar’s agenda. These solar companies, backed by big environmental leftists, want to retain and expand on their taxpayer subsidies. If elected, Chabin and Mundell will work to keep the taxpayer dollars flowing to these solar corporations.

Given the dismal history of bankruptcies and bailouts of big solar corporations like Solyndra, SunEdison and Abengoa, handing authority to Democrats like Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell would be a financial disaster to ratepayers and the energy market.

Tom Chabin

Expect Big Solar to strong-arm this race and spend big money to put their corporate cronies in place. Just don’t expect leftist-friendly media to shine any light on their dark spending or on Chabin’s dark money past.

 

Big Solar launches ballot initiative to keep corporate crony deal in place

Interesting political developments taking place over the last 10 days in Arizona regarding energy policy.

Big solar has decided to go on offense by exercising the “nuclear option” and launching an initiative in an attempt to lock in ratepayer-funded subsidies in the Arizona Constitution.

Last Tuesday, a group called “Energy Choice for America” registered as an independent expenditure committee with the Arizona Secretary of State. In its filing it stated that it would be supporting a ballot measure but did not list the name of ballot measure. The group’s chairman is listed as Kris Mayes – a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner.

Three days later on April 15, a group called “Yes on AZ Solar, In Support of C-09-2016” filed registration papers with the Secretary of State’s office. This committee registered in support of a ballot measure but listed the ballot measure as “None exists yet.” Kristin Mayes was listed as the group’s chairman.

On Monday (18th), another group called “Energy Choice for America in Support of C-09-2016” registered as a committee in support of a ballot measure – obviously, C-09-2016. Again, the chairman was listed as Kristin Mayes.

Finally, on Tuesday (19th), another independent expenditure committee called “Save Our AZ Solar” filed papers in support of an unnamed ballot measure. The chairman? You guessed it – Kris Mayes.

So why these committees and why is Kris Mayes at the center of all these committees?

First, a brief background on the current dismal state of rooftop solar companies. Anyone following the industry knows that these corporations have been on a major energy bubble waiting to burst. Fueled by political agendas and taxpayer subsidies, public policy has attracted companies attempting to take advantage of a solar-friendly political climate and of course, those big green profits. Companies like SunEdison have over promised and under delivered while they’ve taken on tremendous debt to lease their products to customers.

Thursday, SunEdison announced it was going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

We saw a similar situation with Spain-based Abengoa Solar which was working on a project near Gila Bend.

The industry in many ways has become so big, it is failing and it’s failing miserably on its own accord.

Bringing this back to Arizona politics, news of these collapses couldn’t happen at a worse time for politicos seeking to make it a ballot issue for voters.

The formation of these political committees is all part of a last ditch effort by the imploding rooftop solar corporations to cement into Arizona’s Constitution their right to your ratepayer subsidies. Big solar corporations are asking voters to demand that government pick big solar companies as the winner and recipient of utility profits. And don’t be surprised if they use all kinds of fear and loathing messaging to persuade voters to vote for their “free” government money.

It is a horribly inflexible way to make public policy by allowing special interests to seek a corporate crony deal in an ever-changing energy market that requires flexibility.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This is what happens when government creates an incentive for so-called green corporations – they pursue green paper instead of pursuing green energy.[/pullquote]

So why did Big Solar choose Kris Mayes to chair their political committees? She lends credibility to their agenda and effort. Mayes served on the Arizona Corporation Commission from 2003-2010 and helped write the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) which forces Arizona utilities to produce and deliver a 15% of energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, etc. by 2025. Until the initiative announced, Mayes served as a senior sustainability scholar with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

While I have a tremendous respect for Kris Mayes and ASU’s Schools of Sustainability, as a conservative/libertarian, I do have to disagree with those policy objectives that  increase the size and role of government – especially when the consequences are a disruption to free market economies and a reduction of freedom and the well-being of individuals. There is nothing sustainable about government subsidies and dependency. (Conservatives should actually “own” the word “sustainability!”)

With Big Solar behind this initiative and Kris Mayes as their spokesperson, we can expect millions of dollars to pour into the campaign. In a recent Arizona Republic article, Mayes revealed that “‘significant’ resources will be put in the campaign.”

Thursday it was reported that SolarCity Inc. has already donated $3 million to the campaign. And in a tweet by reporter Rachel Leingang on Wednesday, the committee was already hiring petition circulators off Craigs List at $5 a signature.

A minimum of 225,963 signatures is needed to qualify for the ballot. Doing the math on those numbers shows that it will cost the committee $1,129,815 just to pay for the minimum number of signatures. Most committees try to build a buffer of 15-20% over minimum. Most committees running a “popular” initiative, don’t have to pay for signatures.

That means Big Solar is willing to pay big bucks to keep the subsidies flowing to their business. For them, its the cost of doing business even if it means carving out a special place in the Arizona Constitution.

One of my primary motives for writing columns like this is I’m angered by the injustice of what the rooftop solar is attempting to do to unaware people. These companies will tell a prospective customer that they can generate all their own electricity and that any extra electricity can be sold back to the grid. These companies will sign up customers for a long term lease and install the equipment on their rooftops (free rent to park their units.) The customer will be told they’re helping the environment and saving money on their utility bill (relatively true statements).

But what Big Solar doesn’t really focus on with the customer is who owns the the equipment and that there is a margin between the retail rate and the wholesale rate at which the customer “sells back” their electricity. That margin adds up to big profits for rooftop solar companies.

At the same time, solar rooftop customers do not pay for the cost to maintain and upgrade the main grid. That cost is shifted to non-solar customers to pay. If you’re someone concerned about equity, it’s anything but fair as those folks who are more likely to qualify for a long-term solar lease shift the cost of maintaining the grid to those who cannot afford or qualify for solar leases.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It’s a big racket for Big Solar and they’re willing to spend big money to keep their big profits in place – by enshrining it into our state constitution.[/pullquote]

When Arizona utility companies revealed these disparities to the Arizona Corporation Commission and suggested more equitable policy changes like elimination of net metering or demand charges, Big Solar went on the warpath. It’s why they’ve launched their initiative “The Arizona Solar Energy Freedom Act.”

If you are a rooftop solar customer, don’t be surprised to see a signature gatherer show up at your doorstep carrying a petition. Big Solar has your name and address and they’re not worried about sharing your private information with the super PAC’s hiring people off Craig’s List to knock on your door and warn you that the sky is falling.

Watch for Big Solar’s “Arizona Solar Energy Freedom Act” and remember, it’s anything but free.

‘Stormy Days’ Ahead for Rooftop Solar in Arizona?

Stormy Solar Panels

Arizona consumers of rooftop solar best prepare for cloudy financial times ahead if recent stormy news in the solar panel industry is any indication.

Missouri-based SunEdison is on the verge of financial collapse as it heads toward bankruptcy with $11 Billion of debt, a lawsuit by a subsidiary and an investigation by the fed.

SunRun and SolarCity are also sitting on the same bubble as they find their values halved since late last year and nervous investors losing confidence in the industry’s 20-year leasing approach for consumers.

Also adding to the volatility of the industry is a realization by local and state governments that subsidizing the industry is simply unsustainable bad public policy.

The rooftop solar industry should blame itself for its financial woes. It took on far too much rapid expansion and despite tremendous revenues, it is still facing losses. SunCity lost $769 million while Sunrun reported $28.2 million in losses. And 2016 is certain to continue that trend.

Now the industry is making efforts to cut costs in overhead, labor, advertising, etc. even as the cost of panels had dropped considerably. To come close to making a profit, these companies must continue to lock in new customers. And they must also continue to find favor with state and local governments by continuing subsidies, favorable rate policies and special construction/installation projects.

As traditional utility companies follow a more steady and stable growth model into renewable energy platforms, government regulators are becoming more wise and reluctant to choose winners and losers through policies like net metering. Instead, regulators are attempting to allow the market to adjust to normal conditions with the least negative impact to consumer pocketbooks.

With these policy changes and market adjustments, rooftop solar companies are finding that a good deal [for them] won’t last forever. Even as energy regulators make adjustments to allow the market to benefit all consumers, the rooftop solar industry has turned it into a political battle to keep their special arrangements in place.

This is the vicious cycle for rooftop solar: Cut costs while expanding the number of consumers in order to come close in making a profit – a strategy that is highly dependent on government favors and taxpayers and essentially a form of corporate welfare. As the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

This brings us back to Arizona consumers of solar energy who will be the negatively affected if the rooftop solar bubble bursts. Who will maintain and warranty rooftop units if the company reneges on its contracts or worse, goes under?

That’s where the market appears to be headed and consumers better prepare for a rainy day.

Orchestrated Confusion Over UniSource Proposal at Lake Havasu Corporation Commission Hearing

Reading the latest news story in the Lake Havasu News Herald, it would appear that operative from the rooftop solar industry have caused just enough confusion among ratepayers that the latest proposal to bring economic sense and equity to the energy market will require yet another hearing.

Thursday, in accordance with Arizona law, the Arizona Corporation Commission conducted a hearing in Lake Havasu to hear from ratepayers over a request by UniSource to modify its rate structure in order to iron out inequities in the way customers purchase electricity from the UniSource portion of the grid.

One of those changes would be the implementation of “demand charges” – a concept that charges a customer based on the highest demand placed by that customer during a given unit of time. Most demand is placed on the entire grid during early morning hours and early evening hours when users turn on more electrical loads in their households. It is at that time that the grid experiences its heaviest loads that ultimately costs in maintenance, repairs and even brownouts. (Read my earlier post on this concept.)

The UniSource request would allow the utility company to recover the costs of this demand while reducing costs during non-peak demand times.

Additionally, the request would also allow UniSource to adjust the price it purchases (credits) energy from rooftop solar users through net metering. Currently, that rate is sold back to utility companies at an inflated rate. That inflated rate is shifted to non-solar users who pay the difference causing an economic inequity. There are far fewer rooftop solar users than non-solar users so non-solar users are burdened by this rate inequity.

If approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, UniSource’s request would not take effect until 2017 and rooftop solar users who purchased or began their leases before June 1, 2015 would be grandfathered into the proposal.

The political takeaway of this is that the rooftop solar industry has partaken of this form of corporate cronyism for too long. Because of a nationwide agenda to pick winners and losers in the energy sector, the solar energy industry has been heavily subsidized and given special breaks through policies like net metering. The industry cannot survive without some form of government intervention and when government pulls out and allows the market to adjust, these companies oftentimes go bankrupt leaving consumers on the hook and employees without jobs.

Here in Arizona, the battle to keep net metering in place is being waged at town hall meetings like we see in Lake Havasu.

NonSolarCustomers

When a utility company like UniSource proposes a innovative compromise to allow the free market to adjust properly to the benefit of all consumers, they are met with chaos and confusion orchestrated by the rooftop solar industry. These companies pay their lobbyists to circulate among a community to stoke the fears of ratepayers and senior citizens on fixed incomes.

What they won’t tell you is that they want a bigger bite at the apple of government subsidies and special deals. Meanwhile, its the ratepayers who bear the burden – those who cannot afford $40,000 systems and those who were told sunny days were ahead when they leased one.

Corporation Commissioners will conduct another hearing in Lake Havasu sometime in the next two weeks.