At ALEC, utilities defeat 2nd try at anti-subsidies model

Source: David Iaconangelo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2018

A draft policy opposing subsidies for vehicles, fuels and fueling infrastructure was rejected during an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in New Orleans last Friday.

It marked the second time that an anti-subsidy resolution with implications for electric vehicles and alternative fuels was defeated by the group, which holds forums for conservative state lawmakers and business interests to draw up model legislation.

As in April, when the first version of the resolution was presented, electric utilities led the push to defeat it (Climatewire, May 1).

“The turf line seemed to be between oil production people and the electric utilities,” said Indiana state Rep. Woody Burton, a Republican who serves as public chairman of ALEC’s task force for commerce.

But the resolution also came out of an attempt to negotiate a compromise between the two interests — one that may have cost it support from the oil and gas industry.

The first version, presented to an energy task force during ALEC’s spring meeting, took aim at subsidies for electric, propane and natural gas vehicles, as well as their supporting infrastructure. It was tabled after a compromise was reached too close to the hour of the vote.

The draft that the commerce task force considered last Friday expanded the scope well beyond that of the original to include “all federal, state and local subsidies” for any type of vehicle, power sources and associated infrastructure.

It narrowly won support from state legislators but was downed by a majority of private-sector representatives. Both groups have to approve policies in order for them to pass.

Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and an active proponent of the resolution at ALEC, called the measure “a work in progress” in an email to E&E News.

“I expect it will look different the next time it is introduced,” he said.

Brian Reil, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, which represents the country’s investor-owned utilities, said the association was “extremely disappointed in these continued efforts to limit our ability to serve our customers.”

It was unclear which other private-sector representatives had opposed the measure.

A spokesperson for United Parcel Service Inc., whose vice president for public affairs serves as the private-sector chair for the commerce task force, said UPS did not support the resolution, adding that it invests “millions of dollars in alternative fuel research” and other sustainability measures.

Rick Sapienza, clean transportation director at North Carolina State University’s Clean Energy Technology Center, noted that companies with fleets tend to favor cleaner-burning fuels and vehicles because of the lower life-cycle costs.

“This is a business decision for them, and they’re looking longer-term,” he said.

Unlike government fleet agencies, he added, “they’re not just looking at this budget cycle.”