Real clear energy: money & power: new FOIA’d documents offer ugly candor about ‘green energy’

The article below was originally written by Chris Horner and it appeared at Real Clear Energy. I’ve added my own commentary within the text of the article below.

“Recently, excerpts from notes taken at a meeting at the Rockefeller family mansion between activists, donors and political appointees emerged. They contain further revelations, beyond those first reported.

These notes quote numerous, high-ranking political appointees from state government making quite clear that the costly lessons of scandalous Obama-era parade of high-profile and costly green energy boondoggles changed nothing.

“Green energy” remains about money and power. As in keeping power, not generating it.

The handwritten and typed notes obtained by the transparency group Energy Policy Advocates were taken at a meeting at Pocantico, the Rockefeller home outside New York City.

The meeting was titled “Accelerating State Action on Climate Change”. The notetakers were an employee of the activist group/consultancy Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and an official from Tom Steyer’s Energy Foundation,

Rule number one in pushing the green agenda is to get industry on your side. Of course! But, how ever does one do this?

Per the RMI notes, “when [it] comes to power sector, look to politics – relatively easy political landscape, as long as utility makes $.”

Bingo. Why does Xcel Energy fund groups like Fresh Energy, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota? It’s all about boosting their corporate profits. These groups advocate for more renewable energy, which increases Xcel’s government guaranteed corporate profits. As you can see, adding renewables has been good for Xcel shareholder, but bad for their customers.


Ah. Rob Peter to pay Paul, and he’ll get behind whatever you do. This stratagem is attributed to David Bobzien, Director of the Office of Energy for Gov. Steve Sisolak, Democrat of Nevada. Yes, Nevada, home of the high-profile debacle, unfolding at the very time of this meeting, known as Crescent Dunes.

Nevada officials in attendance had quite a few things to offer their colleagues.

They reminded colleagues that, while guaranteeing that potential impediments in industry make money get them on board, the politicians’ schemes also require taxpayer money.

Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director Bradley Crowell — a former Obama “green energy” official — is credited with noting, “need novel/workable funding mechanisms. have to balance the budget.”

This per another set of notes were taken by Katie McCormack, the Energy Foundation’s Program Director for West Policy.

And power? A further statement, attributed merely to “Nevada,” pleaded, “have to be careful about keeping Ds in office.”

It’s not just Nevada. And it’s not just “Ds.” The 20 appointees in attendance, each of them a governor’s chief of staff, department secretary, or cabinet equivalent, came from both Republican and Democratic administrations. They convened to offer each other a “safe space” for airing such sentiments, and work out a plan to keep the gravy trains running.

This “green energy” agenda is remarkably resilient, particularly given its track record. The power of rent seeking — the business of earning money the old fashioned way: with a little help from your friends in government — provides some explanation.

And public choice theory tells us that politicians and bureaucrats are people, too, who can rationally be expected to behave in accordance with their own personal interests rather than the romantic idea of the public interest.

Combine them and you get the adage that when you rob Peter to pay Paul, you’re guaranteed Paul’s enthusiastic support. Sometimes the idea was Paul’s to begin with.

Still, it is indeed striking to see how few lessons the political class thinks the taxpayers have learned, such that officials so brazenly scheme to ignore experience and economics in the pursuit of political “green energy” schemes.

Chris Horner is a board member of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C., which represents Energy Policy Advocates in open records matters.