CEI, Independence Institute Announce Opposition to Obama’s FERC Pick

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2013 — The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Colorado-based Independence Institute today announced their strong opposition to President Obama’s choice of Ron Binz to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Previously, Binz served as the chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, where he oversaw a fundamental shift in policy. Before Binz’s appointment, Colorado utilities were required to provide the most affordable electricity possible. Under Binz’s leadership, the rules were skewed such that utilities had the incentive to provide green energy, at any cost. As a result, Colorado consumers in 2012 paid nearly $484 million in order to procure energy for which there was no demand.

As head of FERC, Binz will be in a position to influence the nation’s energy markets just as he did Colorado’s, CEI and Independence Institute analysts argue.

“Binz has a proven track record of working the administrative state to advance green energy policies on the back of ratepayers and the economy,” said CEI Senior Fellow Chris Horner. “His nomination is a perfect follow-up to the president’s authoritarian call to impose a climate plan that taxpayers don’t want and that the economy might not be able to withstand.” On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled a climate strategy that included regulations expected to preclude the construction of coal-fired power plants, without a congressional mandate.

“Ron Binz’s legacy at the Colorado PUC is littered with controversy including an ethics violation, a scathing state auditor’s report, and disregard for consumer costs,” noted Amy Oliver Cooke, director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute. “His nomination to head up FERC does not bode well for American consumers.”

“In Colorado, Binz actually participated in the crafting of legislation that mandated fuel switching from coal to gas for 1,000 megawatts of electricity generation, at a significant cost to consumers,” said CEI and Independence Institute analyst William Yeatman. “He’s fully on-board with the president’s war on coal.”