It would be nice to find one issue — just one! — on which Ken Cuccinelli puts the public interest ahead of his own political ambitions and the interests of his corporate donors. Well, let’s just say — the search continues.
Here’s the latest: Dominion Virginia Power, starting to get the message that it’s time to clean up its act, even a little, has proposed a series of energy conservation programs that, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch “could save energy equivalent to the output of a midsize power plant.” Not having to build another power plant would save everyone a lot of money — money like the $1.8 billion Dominion is spending to build a coal-burning plant in Wise County — and reduce the growth of emissions in the state.
So who could be against this great idea? You guessed it. When Dominion spoke before the State Corporation Commission last week in favor of its energy conservation plan, Cuccinelli’s office sent a paid consultant to testify against it:
Scott Norwood, an energy consultant to the state attorney general’s office, testified before the commission that “there will be little or no customer benefits from proposed (demand-side management) programs over the next 15 years.”
“Moreover, there is significant uncertainty in Dominion’s (demand-side management) program cost estimates,” Norwood said, “and the program savings estimates are similarly uncertain and overstated,” not accounting for recent decreases in natural gas costs and assuming future regulations on carbon emissions.
Wait a second — Cuccinelli’s office criticized Dominion for not taking into account “future regulations on carbon emissions” — the same sorts of regulations the man has devoted his life to preventing? That’s…interesting.
If you want to know what’s really going on here, it’s not too hard to figure out. As our Ayatollah General ramps up his campaign for governor, one of the first issues he’s signaled he will be demagoguing is electric utility rates. But you can bet your SUV that our Cuccinelli won’t be attacking big corporations for electric rates — why bite the hand that feeds you?
No, I can tell you right now who the enemy will be revealed to be: THOSE EVIL ENVIRONMENTALISTS! They want to raise your rates as part of a vast global conspiracy to steal your money and use it to create a totalitarian world government dedicated to infiltrating your precious bodily fluids!
So by opposing Dominion’s energy efficiency programs — and it’s not the first time his office has done so, by the way — Cuccinelli can say that he is fighting against rate increases proposed by the evil environmentalists. Except that, as usual, his extreme right wing politics make for terrible policy.
Dominion’s “demand side management” or energy conservation measures would require a short-term investment of $53 million, adding $1.10 a month to the average resident’s electric bill — but save the cost of having to build future plants like the one in Wise County, which added about $1.84 per month to customer’s bills. It’s called “pay now, or pay more later” — also known as investing wisely rather stupidly.
So once again, Cuccinelli scores cheap political points at the expense of helping people and the planet. Oh, well, at least the guy’s consistent…