It should come as no surprise that industry insiders, lobbyists and special-interest groups support Ron Binz, President Obama's choice to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Letters, Aug. 9). They've racked up huge gains at ratepayers' expense as a result of Mr. Binz's activism. However, the supportive letter by former Federal Energy Regulatory commissioners neglects to mention Mr. Binz's record of antipathy toward three energy sources that power 91% of the nation's electrical grid.
As head of Colorado's Office of Consumer Counsel, Mr. Binz was instrumental in shutting down the state's lowest carbon-emitting energy source, the Fort St. Vrain nuclear power station. As chair of Colorado's Public Utilities Commission, Mr. Binz was a general in the war on coal. In 2010, while leading the charge in negotiating the terms of the $1.3 billion controversial fuel-switching bill, the "Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act," Mr. Binz thought natural gas was a clean fuel. He now calls it a "dead end" technology.
During Mr. Binz's tenure, the credit rating and profits of rent-seeking (and supportive) utilities like Xcel Energy soared. So did electric rates, at double the rate of inflation in recent years. The trend in Colorado is expected to continue, as ratepayers must pay the cost for the 30% renewable (mostly wind) mandate. Colorado once enjoyed some of the lowest rates in the Rocky Mountain West. Now it has the second highest and the highest of all its neighboring states.
Ron Binz and Barack Obama want to take this same anticonsumer agenda to the national stage. Not everyone supports that.
Amy Oliver Cooke
Free Market Environmental Law Clinic
Competitive Enterprise Institute
American Tradition Institute