Has Andy Biggs Become A Globalist?

By East Valley Evan

Andy Biggs supported Ron Paul for President in 2008. His wife, Cindy, even donated to Paul’s campaign in 2008. He identified himself as an anti-establishment conservative but something changed. Andy Biggs was put into leadership and political power changed him. He started to get comfortable with lobbyists and the political establishment. He became cozy with interest groups like the Payday Loan industry and he opposed reforms to the lobbying process, such as bans on gifts to legislator’s.

To see how far Biggs has come, look at the compromises he’s already making in his run for congress.

Biggs supports the Export-Import Bank.

This bank is the pet project of the political elites and those with a globalist agenda. Biggs will tout his opposition to bringing money back to citizens in Arizona from the Feds, but has no problem spending tax dollars on a federal government bank to fund defense contractors, and businesses with large lobbying interests.

I think every conservative in CD-5 should know who Andy Biggs really is.

Here is what Andy Biggs said during the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance debate when asked by Arizona Capitol Times reporter, Jim Small, if he supports renewal of the ExIM Bank:

 

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.

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.

Net Metering: A Win-Win For Everyone

I was quite surprised by the spirited and even vociferous response to last week’s post regarding the issue of net metering and solar energy competition in Arizona. It even captured the attention of several members of the Arizona Corporation Commissioner who made their objections indirectly know to me and those following the debate over APS’ effort to bring about an end to net metering. From conservative, liberal and independent ideologues, the online comments, posts, emails and calls were remarkably supportive of consumer choice.

In case you missed it, subsidies to the solar industry are ending in Arizona over the next few months. For taxpayers, that’s a good thing. But I would also argue the ACC policymaking doesn’t go far enough. Republicans should be just as vehement about ending other energy subsidies, regardless of the source, which will ultimately usher in a thriving and more competitive energy market.

Many, like me, are trying to understand why a state rich in abundant sunshine is finding resistance in securing energy choice among those who were elected on a platform of competition and choice?

Republicans have long held that choice, diversity and competition in the energy marketplace moves us toward energy independence, wise stewardship of the environment and consumer freedom and sustainability. Choice in education is a prime example of this very philosophy that has brought student achievement and parental involvement. Why would we not apply the same logic toward energy policy?

In fact, here is what the 2012 Republican Party Platform – updated last August – says about the Republican vision on energy:

Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes. In assessing the various sources of potential energy, Republicans advocate an all-of-the-above diversified approach, taking advantage of all our American God-given resources. That is the best way to advance North American energy independence. 

We encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy, but the taxpayers should not serve as venture capitalists for risky endeavors. It is important to create a pathway toward a market-based approach for renewable energy sources and to aggressively develop alternative sources for electricity generation such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal, and tidal energy. Partnerships between traditional energy industries and emerging renewable industries can be a central component in meeting the nation’s long-term needs. Alternative forms of energy are part of our action agenda to power the homes and workplaces of the nation.

As a result of the feedback of last week’s opinion piece, I feel it necessary to expand and even advocate for a recalibration on an inconsistent Republican policy makers hold on this topic.

Yes, the GOP has been a steadfast and principled advocate for free market policies – especially when it comes to stopping the spread of the healthcare industrial complex known as Obamacare or the vast left-wing manipulation of public education. We argue with passion that we need more health care choices. We argue for charter schools and tuition tax credits.

So why then would we allow the elimination of consumer-based choice in the form of alternative energy options by policy makers in league with the monopolistic maneuvers of utility corporations?

Please don’t misunderstand me when it comes to the whole issue of corporate welfare and subsidies to certain pockets of the energy marketplace. I fully oppose government poking its nose in the role of picking winners and losers, eliminating consumer choice all at the expense of taxpayers.

That’s why I argue the point of protecting net metering – a policy that allows consumers to produce their own energy with the excess amount to be supplied back to “the grid” a win-win for everyone.

Some time within the next 90 days, APS is expected to push the Arizona Corporation Commission to eliminate this practice thus taking away the primary mechanism and incentive for taxpaying consumers to pursue energy sustainability and efficiency. This makes no sense at all other than re-erecting a barrier of protection for utility monopolies.

Will opinions like this continue to provoke fierce debate between those vying to consume, provide and blur the distinction between both roles? That’s guaranteed. But let’s remember one thing. Our state Constitution was written to protect the rights of Arizonans. With the right Republican leadership in place, energy choice, independence and consistency can thrive in Arizona.

Let the debate continue!