by Richard Golladay
I am a conservative Republican. (The word “conservative” used to have at least some connection to the word “conservation”, but that was a very long time ago – in Teddy Roosevelt’s era.)
I had a cordial and interesting conversation with the local county GOP chairperson the other day – a very nice lady. She left me with absolutely no doubt that CEO John Hewa and other staff were dismissed because of their affiliation with renewable energy. (But I knew this already.) But beyond an obvious and outrageous intrusion of a political party into PEC’s business, there are several things that she, and many Republicans just “don’t get”.
First, there are many “millennials” now becoming eligible to vote. The Koch brothers’-funded Heartland Institute may be able to bluff a bunch of graying 1980’s-minded retirees that global warming (climate change) is only a conspiracy, but it won’t work on the new crop of millennials, or most other thinking people. There’s simply too much hard evidence, peer-reviewed science, and the overwhelming consensus of our Climatologists (at least 4 in Texas alone) that CO2 buildup is incrementally heating our atmosphere, causing extra water evaporation in an increasing positive-reinforcement cycle which leads to even more green-house gas build-up (water vapor). The increasing frequency of extreme weather events was predicted some years ago by climatology super-computer models: The Troposphere is heating faster than the Stratosphere, the higher heat differential being a prime driver for extreme weather events, made worse by more water vapor in the Troposphere (about 5% higher on average now, than in 1900). We’re already seeing an increase in “rain bomb” flooding, more frequent destructive tornados, and of course, more severe hurricanes. The effects of anthropogenic CO2 buildup are also seen in rising sea levels, and the melting of polar ice. (How could anyone with an I.Q. over 48 miss it?)
Secondly, thinking people are getting very tired of a political party (the GOP) steam-rolling opposition to renewable energy, and facilitating the very industry that is profiting monetarily from polluting our atmosphere with green-house gases. In short, people are getting tired of “crony-ism”. I suggested to the nice GOP county chairperson that the GOP may become “extinct” if it does not come around.
So, my friends in the GOP (and entrenched on the PEC Board), just continue with the “crony-ism” and pave a road to political extinction. Or preferably, get your thinking (and ethics) recalibrated and make a better world for your children.
So now: Here is why those who are under the spell of crony-ism are fast losing maneuvering room:
About 70% of PEC’s member-owners favor renewables, according to the PEC-sponsored Burns and McDonnell poll conducted in 2015. The local GOP leadership (which seems intent on high-jacking our Co-op for political purposes) , and apparently the latest PEC Board, are far out of touch with the desires of PEC’s members.
If the Co-op moves to “Customer Choice” (effectively dismantling the Co-op) some existing and new green energy Retail Electric Providers (REPs) will provide superior net-metering options with full buy back of solar. Most of the present PV solar owners with PEC will then switch away from PEC to these “green” REPs – leaving PEC with even less of a green footprint, and becoming even more politically marginalized. As solar and renewables become significantly cheaper than fossil generation (there is currently almost a parity), the deck will tip even more. The coal-biased REPs, or any other energy providers having connection with coal, will find themselves increasingly less competitive and increasingly politically ostracized.
If, on the other hand, the Co-op is left intact by the current Board (by not moving to “Customer Choice”), but still fails to aggressively embrace renewable energy while continuing to support “big coal”, at some point political careers will begin to crumble. People won’t buy the current paradigm much longer.
In both nature, business, and politics, those who refuse to adapt in the face of changing realities will surely lose in the end.