Are you louder than 63 lobbyists?

Guest Blog | July 2, 2009 | Climate Change, Energy Policy the weeks leading up to the House vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), we learned that opponents to the bill spent $79 million on efforts to weaken/defeat this important legislation.  Now more information has come to light.

The Center for Public Integrity recently revealed that Southern Company, the Atlanta-based utility, deployed a team of lobbyists larger than any other industry or interest group to influence the outcome of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

With a total of 63 lobbyists, Southern Company had nearly twice as many lobbyists as any other company.  Why?

“We feel it’s very important to educate our legislators,” a Southern Company spokeswoman said according to the Center.

SACE obtained an email that a Georgia Power (subsidiary of Southern Company) account manager sent out to the company’s customers before the vote.  This email, and the attachments (included as links below, added by SACE), provide some insight into what they are telling Congress.

From: [Name removed]
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 11:09 AM
Subject: Pending Legislation that may Impact Our Customers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reclassified carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  This decision comes on the heels of various pieces of proposed federal legislation that could greatly impact all classes of Georgia Power’s customers.  We want you to have the latest information so you can act accordingly as this will impact your business.

Attached are three pieces of information to help you get up to speed on the facts.

1.  The first document discusses the estimated Georgia impacts of the Climate Security Act introduced last year by Sens. Lieberman and Warner, and this year’s Clean Energy and Security Act introduced by Sens. Waxman and Markey.  The Waxman-Markey bill includes a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions, renewable electricity standards, and an energy efficiency resource standard.  This bill causes us to estimate significant increases in electricity prices.

2.  The second is a one pager that outlines the Southern Company/Georgia Power climate positions.

3. The third is a Wall Street Journal article that does a very good job covering all the major issues and politics surrounding the Waxman-Markey bill.

I trust you will find this information helpful in positioning your business to deal with this important issue.


[Name removed]
Key Account Manager
Georgia Power
111 Stockyard Road
Statesboro, Georgia 30458

In addition to swarming the Capitol, the infamous southern utility also called on its customers to help warn that the “sky is falling.”  The email subtly threatens higher electricity prices, and the first attachment referenced in the email predicts a dismal scene if ACES becomes law.  The company claims that electricity rates will increase 20% by 2015 and 65% in 2050.  In addition, the fact sheet says that the legislation’s targets for energy efficiency would “prevent economic growth, preventing the location of industries and jobs into states like Georgia….”

Unfortunately, these scare tactics aren’t new, and it doesn’t look like they’re going away any time soon.  SACE’s research director recently reported that ACES will actually save families money on their electricity bills.  ACES is also expected to create an average of more than 50,000 jobs per state in our region.  But when you’re facing a barrage of baloney, it’s tempting to think that the facts are irrelevant.

Nevertheless, one unyielding fact remains: money talks.  But just because we can’t pony up $79 million or deploy 63 hired guns  doesn’t mean we can’t succeed in achieving a 21st century energy policy, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Last week’s vote to pass ACES in the House of Representatives demonstrates just how important one phone call or one email to your Representative or Senator can be.  We can improve our economy and our environment together.  But we need to be louder, bolder, and unrelenting.

Consideration of a clean energy/jobs plan like ACES is already underway in the Senate–Part 2 of our best chance to set a limit on global warming pollution and unleash the new economic opportunities of a 21st century clean energy economy.  Stay tuned for updates from SACE about how to get involved.  Grassroots action can prevail, but not without you!

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