FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9-8-15
Contact: Tom McCarey
CONSUMER AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIR GODSHALL HELD HEARINGS FOR ELECTRIC UTILITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES TO OPT-OUT FROM SMART METER ACT 129 REGULATIONS AS HE REFUSES TO RELEASE SMART METER RATEPAYER OPT-OUT BILLS FOR A COMMITTEE VOTE
September 1st, 2015, a true anomaly occurred in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding the right of redress for grievances before government, its legislature and regulating agencies. PA House of Representatives Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Robert W Godshall acquiesced to corporate demands by staging a hearing wherein testimony was presented by numerous vested corporate interests, i.e., EDCs (electric distribution companies) to air their grievances regarding relief from penalties ranging from $1 million to $20 million regardless of fault in not meeting energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates contained in Act 129 of 2008, AND their requests for opt-out privileges, which Godshall said the committee and the PA PUC would take under advisement.
The irony of the hearing that Representative Godshall chaired is that he REFUSES to allow committee voting for various opt-outs bills (past and present) for ratepayer consumers regarding Smart Meters (SMs) that 7 utilities are forcing on to them without regard for, nor concerns about, the problems AMI Smart Meters cause: fires, explosions, EMF/RF health problems due to non-thermal adverse reactions, plus consumers being liable for fire damage caused by SMs that insurance companies refuse coverage for and which utility companies blame on homeowners, when fires occurred after SM retrofits.
Contrasting the two situations listed above, one has to wonder where Godshall’s interests are to be found: with consumers’ affairs or with vested corporate interests, especially since his son, Grey Godshall, works as a manager for PECO/Exelon, the largest electric and natural gas supplier in the USA.
An issue that seems paramount to utilities is that “Act 129 allows EDCs to recover only the costs of implementing energy efficiency and peak demand reduction requirements and caps the cost of the combined programs at 2% of the EDC’s total annual revenues as of December 31, 2006. The law specifically precludes EDCs from recovering the revenue they lose due to customer usage reductions,” as the Energy of Pennsylvania Association president testified.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Manager of Government Affairs dropped this little hint as to what ratepayers can expect: “It can then be reasonably projected that over the next three years, utilities will spend roughly an additional $735 million to comply with the new targets – all of which will be borne by ratepayers [consumers].”
Representative Evankovich, a member of the Consumer Affairs Committee, questioned the inequity in the system for business customers—not homeowner customers’ inequities—and how businesses that were energy efficient in the first place are now penalized under Act 129. Nothing was questioned regarding how consumers/ratepayers, who dramatically and negatively are impacted by SMs under Act 129, was ever addressed. It was all about corporate interests and “follow the money.”
Newly-appointed PA PUC Chairman, Gladys M Brown, testified that there are five changes coming to Act 129, all of which seemingly may have favorable impacts for Pennsylvania utilities and EDCs. However, nothing was said about favorably impacting ratepayers/consumers. Why?
The Director of Regulatory and Government Affairs for EnerNOC testified that “While EDCs can recover the direct costs of the Act 129 programs [apparently from grants and ratepayer rate hikes], they are not able to recover the lost revenue that results from less energy being used.” He went on to say, “If utilities can’t earn a return on this technology, they will be less likely to deploy it relative to traditional infrastructure investments for which they can earn a return.” What about ratepayers?
The Director of PennFuture Energy Center pointed to “Protect our existing gains—Any action that lowers the Act 129 budgets or lowers the EDC’s targets means that another program will have to do more. At a minimum, we should avoid weakening the program.” With regard to “Rethink our rate designs—In our restructured market, our electric utilities are in the business of selling electric distribution services, not electricity itself. They should be paid a fair price for the service they provide, but the rate design should encourage energy efficiency not waste.”
However, it was the testimony of the Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania (IECPA) that delineated what’s involved when he presented Slide 6 of his PowerPoint presentation regarding “Concerns and Facts About the Opt-Out,” which applies to power company suppliers, not ratepayer consumers—a BIG difference regarding the word “consumers.” Those Opt-Out Concerns, as appeared in the PP presentation, include:
• “Opt-Out reduces Residential & Small Business Participation
• Opt-Out will reduce large consumer energy efficiency
• Opt-Out allows consumers to collect grants & leave the Program without paying
• Opt-Out reduces energy industry jobs in the Commonwealth
• Opt-Out reduces funding to large consumer market segment
• Opt-Out allows large consumers to avoid investment in PA or energy efficiency”
How can EDCs present their grievances and be taken seriously regarding the impacts of Act 129 of 2008 when homeowners/ratepayers/
PASMA respectfully asks the Pennsylvania legislature to enforce Robert W Godshall’s recusing himself, as he apparently is playing favorites in not allowing Smart Meter Opt-out Bills to be called for a vote and also has a conflict of interest in his son’s employment with PECO/Exelon. Should there be a recall referendum instituted against Godshall?
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with a member of PASMA, please call Tom McCarey at 610-687-7607.