“Senator Jesse Bjorkman is up against an army of eco-activists and lobbyists. We Alaskans have the responsibility to hand down the legacy of an affordable and reliable energy system. A Renewable Portfolio Standard is not that.”
The Camel’s Nose metaphor goes: “Don’t allow even small malpractices, because they will grow big eventually.” Realized or not, the major malpractice in question at this very moment is Alaskans being forced into anti-energy “decarbonization.”
The political war against carbon dioxide (CO2), the building block of life, has wreaked havoc on humanity throughout the world. The implementation of this decarbonization plan is the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). This post updates the issues and what can be done to save Alaska’s largest population center from political plunder.
In early 2022, Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced legislation for an RPS with the press release: “House Bill 301 and Senate Bill 179 will allow Alaska to join 30 states and two territories in creating a renewable portfolio standard in the Railbelt. A key element of the governor’s RPS is a firm commitment to transitioning to 30% sustainable power by 2030 and 80% by 2040.”
Sustainable? That’s a political term. Consumers and taxpayers would beg to differ. So why is a conservative governor no longer disbanding former Governor Bill Walker’s Green New Deal adherence but going to full-throated adoption and implementation of the anti-energy, anti-industrial globalist agenda?
Much of what is going on today was spawned from policies that were adopted in 2010 when the Alaska State legislature adopted the state’s energy policy and intent. This document outlines a non-binding goal to reach 50% renewable energy by 2025. The sponsor statement written in January 25, 2010, confirms that our legislature had environmental activists writing state policy:
The House Special Committee on Energy Co‐chairs Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D‐Dillingham and Rep. Charisse Millett, R‐Anchorage used a unique method to draft the bill ‐ they didn’t write it. Instead, they assembled a diverse group of Alaskans with decades of experience in energy policy to come together and write what they believed would make a good energy policy for Alaska.
The Alaska draft climate change policy dated July 27, 2018, is our state-level Green New Deal Implementation Plan. This plan was enabled by the aforementioned 2010 Alaska Energy Policy, which was the creation of Governor Bill Walker’s 15-person Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team. This team contains one of the key authors of the 2010 Alaska Energy Policy, who is now lobbying overtime to help push through RPS through at our state capital.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 created massive amounts of inflationary matching funds and subsidies. There has been a full-court press led by the feds, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), government agents, academia, and private equity pirates to take advantage of this money and use it to transform and gain control of the reliability and affordability of our energy. This will guarantee inflation and higher energy costs for Alaskans. The current RPS legislation is the final evolutionary step toward the implementation of the carbon reduction plan that we should be protected from.
RPS in Alaska
RPS is carbon management policy. This idea has been sold to well-meaning people as something that is effective in controlling climate change. Carbon control and management was designed to be “people control” policy. Carbon management has no proven ability to control the climate. This control of energy is nothing but government energy planning, a march down the Road to Serfdom (in the words of free-market economist F. A. Hayek). This policy specifically sets arbitrary mandates requiring that utilities generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, not including nuclear.
Many of the advocates for this legislation are against further hydro development, which so strongly makes up their renewable energy percentages. This will greatly escalate the cost to meet the mandates of RPS. Twenty-nine states and the District of Colombia have adopted RPS. Sixteen of these with targets of at least 50% renewable and seventeen states at 100%. Look no further than Germany for an example of how RPS and the premature phase-out of reliable and affordable energy will serve up grade A industrial and economic sabotage, generational debt, and the current aggressive resurgence of carbon based energy power generation.
In one of the most comprehensive studies on RPS completed, at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, the authors concluded:
First, these programs’ mandated increase in renewable generation are often smaller than is advertised. Seven years after passage the RPS programs requires a 1.8 percentage point increase in renewable’s share of generation and 12 years after it is 4.2 percentage points. Second, RPS program passage leads to substantial increases in electricity prices that mirror the program’s increasing stringency over time. Seven years after passage, we estimate that average retail prices are 1.3 cents per kWh or 11% higher than they otherwise would be. The corresponding effect twelve years later is 2.0 cents per kWh or 17% higher. Third, the estimates indicate that passage of RPS programs lead to reductions in the generating mix’s carbon intensity, although these estimates can be noisier and more sensitive to specification than is ideal.
And if you are a person that believes that we need to “do something” with carbon, and you buy into putting a price on it:
Putting the results together, the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it at least several times bigger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon.
While Governor Dunleavy’s RPS bill did not pass, a very similar bill, SB 101, was introduced by Alaska State Senator Loki Tobin (D) on March 15, 2023. The senate bill was followed by HB 121 two days later by “conservative” Alaska State Representative Jesse Sumner (R). The senate bill is currently in the Labor and Commerce committee. The committee Chair, Senator Jesse Bjorkman, vowed that it would not be taken up in his committee, so hopefully it will languish there and wait.
Green Conflict-of-Interest at CEA
In the throes of all this is a menacing constant: the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP), whose CEO Chris Rose has been involved from the very beginning, having authored the state’s initial energy policy. As such, REAP has been working to force their agenda on the rate payers of Chugach Electric Association (CEA) and the State of Alaska in more than one way.
CEA is the sole electric utility provider responsible for providing power to 90,000 members where roughly 40% of Alaskans reside in the Anchorage area.
REAP’s entire existence relies on their business model being mandated for intermittent and expensive renewable energy on us all. RPS is currently being heavily lobbied by REAP at the capital.
Jim Nordlund is a CEA board member who has been in and out of the boardroom for years. He also serves as the chair of REAP’s board and in more than one capacity.
A CEA board meeting was held on Wednesday, January 24th. The agenda took up new business to discuss Jim’s perceived conflict of interest, with the discussion taking place well beyond a reasonable hour. This had to be done because REAP was chomping at the bit for the Board to act on their most important resolution of the night, the support of a renewable portfolio standard.
Ultimately CEA corporate counsel was symbolically trotted out to determine that Jim was not a conflict of interest because a resolution has to be passed before a conflict of interest can be realized.
The RPS Deception
CEA took up public testimony at the beginning of the meeting and a few rate payers voiced opposition to an RPS resolution. The rate payers presented compelling information to the board regarding their concerns. Most of the testimony in support of RPS was emotional and devoid of facts. One man was permitted to testify well over the two-minute timer manned by the Chair, Sam Cason.
The board moved to pass (6-1) a resolution to support “A renewable portfolio standard,” and Mr. Nordlund did not recuse himself from this vote.
It is no surprise the board voted this way, as most CEA board members are supported by ENGOs. ENGOs place no value on the reliable and affordable energy infrastructure we have today. These ENGOs, under the guidance of Chris Rose and Jim Nordlund, have played their part by instituting the narrative that we are facing an energy crisis and must act now to transition to their fanciful toys – windmills and solar. Good ideas in the free market don’t require mandates. In a resource rich state, we have the capability to power our grid with reliable and affordable sources for generations.
Interesting is the Board’s complete disregard for the unreported fact that two of the testifiers referenced. There was a unanimous decision by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) on December 13, 2023, to unanimously oppose RPS legislation. Pointing to Germany’s demise, RCA Commissioner Robert Pickett stated
We’ve heard about the German miracle for, I would say, at this Commission, for six or seven years at least, that it’s a shining example, points in time where the penetration of renewables has been 70 percent, 80 percent, but if you look at what’s happened in the last couple of years, it is clear it is not an economic miracle. In fact, it has devastated German industry and the German government itself is forced to pour in massive amounts of subsidy and Germany has some of the – if not the highest rates per kilowatt in Europe, it’s right at the very top and it’s getting worse, and reliability issues are associated with that.
Commissioner Pickett went on
And so, I guess what has sort of shaped my thinking, when I look at the bill, and there’s some very aggressive, by admission of the bill sponsors for SB 101 and HB 121, that today, they’re estimating about 15 percent of the supply is renewable. And they’re proposing by 2027 to get that up to 25 percent and here we are almost 2024 and so, how does that work? It takes 50 years to get to 15 percent and you’re going to increase that by, you know, 65, 67 percent in the next three years? It doesn’t make any sense and that’s even if the external environment was more stable. I mean, our financial system is sort of on the cusp right now with 35 trillion dollars worth of debt and a massive wall of federal debt coming back to the market in the next two years and the interest rates, compared to what they were a year ago, are astronomically higher and all the project sponsors are going to be confronted with that.
It is with much fecklessness and hubris that the six CEA board members ignored the RCA’s ruling.
Deep State Forces at Work
According to their website, REAP is supported monetarily by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a federally funded program with an annual budget of over half a billion dollars. Their mission is heavily geared towards “Energy Justice”, aiming to convince folks that windmills and solar panels equate to equity and diversity. Equitable distribution does not mean everyone gets ample energy – we are just all expected to be equally energy poor.
REAPs non-profit/educational institution/local government constituency includes the Alaska Center and Launch Alaska.
Launch Alaska is a “non-profit accelerator” according to their mission statement: “We’re on a mission to decarbonize the globe, starting in Alaska. We envision equitable, resilient, and prosperous communities rich in economic opportunities, sustainable systems, and clean energy.” Their website discloses “Launch Alaska receives major support from the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions, as well as McKinley Alaska Private Investment, LLC.”
Alaska Center is an extreme left wing, dark money nonprofit who endorsed three of the two CEA board members (Jim Nordlund and Suzanne Fleek-Green) who successfully infiltrated the utility in last years’ election. Along with REAP, Alaska Center also supports a carbon tax.
Jim Nordlund stated in his campaign statement last year:
While Chugach is a well-managed organization with good employees, they have not been advocating strongly enough for renewable energy since I left the board in 2015…Since that time, the impact of climate change has become more obvious, and Chugach as a member/citizen-owned organization, should do more to reduce our carbon impact by burning less natural gas. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that less expensive natural gas is running out in Cook Inlet. And now, new federal infrastructure acts are providing over $100 billion to electric cooperatives to improve their systems and adopt clean energy. The time to act on renewables is now, and that is why I want to be on the board.
As these individuals are so convicted in their principles, I’m sure the offices and homes of everyone employed at these ENGOs are 100% powered by renewables, as well as their work products produced from hamster-powered hemp tablets.
Chugach Board “Progress”
Since the board was handed over to the greens last year, the actions of the board, and those who helped put them there, speak for itself:
The question one really needs to ask themselves is this: Is carbon dioxide truly the evil molecule that it is portrayed to be? If so, why not target the low hanging fruit such as carbonated beverages, dry ice, yeast and beer? Why you say? Outlawing beer would cause a civil rebellion, the likes of which Bud Light has never seen.
Responding to a false crisis has significant consequences. There has never been a more critical time to care about what is going on at your boring local utility. Beginning mid-April of this year, the members of CEA have the opportunity to right a wrong before it takes us down an unrecoverable path. There are two seats up for reelection this spring of the which the current incumbents are in favor of RPS.
Please let your voice be heard, not only figuratively during the voting period, but literally as well – speak with your friends and neighbors about the perilous path we are currently headed.
Defending Our Energy Infrastructure
As of this writing, Senator Jesse Bjorkman is in the unenviable position of stopping the madness. He is up against an army of eco-activists and lobbyists. If we care about the affordability and reliability of Alaska’s energy, we should wholeheartedly support Senator Bjorkman as he fights off the implementers of RPS. We Alaskans have the responsibility to hand down the legacy of an affordable and reliable energy system. RPS is not that. This is for all Alaskans, for all of time.
Please contact Senator Bjorkman to reaffirm him that his rejection of this bill within the Labor and Commerce Committee is the right thing to do for Alaska (907-465-2828; Senator.Jesse.Bjorkman@akleg.gov)