Solar supporters want firm disqualified from La. study

Twenty solar-power groups or companies are asking the Louisiana Public Service Commission to disqualify a company owned by an LSU professor from a cost-benefit analysis of net metering because of his past work for fossil fuel firms.

Net metering is the process by which solar-powered homes and businesses send excess electricity to power companies during the day, then receive credits against the costs of using their power providers’ electricity at night.

In April, the PSC hired Acadian Consulting Group LLC of Baton Rouge to complete a report by Nov. 30 comparing net metering’s costs against its benefits.

State records show David E. Dismukes is an owner of Acadian Consulting Group, the company hired for the study. Dismukes also is an economics professor and executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies.

In a complaint filed Tuesday with the PSC, C. Tucker Crawford, president of Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, alleged Dismukes cannot produce an impartial study on net metering because he has in the past lobbied “for the elimination of renewable energy subsidies and the augmentation of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Crawford added that Dismukes accepted $20,000 from a fossil fuel group, the American Energy Alliance, before arguing last year against federal tax and financing policies benefiting the wind-energy industry.

In addition, Crawford wrote the PSC, Dismukes received $96,000 from America’s Natural Gas Alliance in 2012; $76,000 from Shell in 2012; and $37,000 from the Louisiana oil industry in 2004.

“It stands to reason that Acadian is predisposed against net metering,” Crawford argued in his complaint. “For these reasons, Acadian is incapable of generating an independent and unbiased evaluation of the costs and benefits of net metering in Louisiana.”

In an email Wednesday, Dismukes declined to comment on Crawford’s complaint, which was endorsed by 14 leaders of solar or related companies.

On Wednesday, leaders of Alliance for Affordable Energy, The Alliance for Solar Choice, Vote Solar, American Council on Renewable Energy and Solar Energy Industries Association asked the PSC to add those groups as supporters of Crawford’s complaint.

Colby Cook, the PSC’s communications director, declined to comment on the matter Wednesday, except to say: “The PSC’s legal division is reviewing the complaint.”

Thus far, Cook added, no PSC hearing or meeting has been scheduled for discussion of that complaint.

The companies for which signatures were filed as supporters of Crawford’s complaint included Joule Energy; PosiGen; Louisiana Solar Solutions; NuCell; Optimize Solar; Solar Alternatives; and South Coast Solar.

Others were Rebirth Energy Solutions; EcoPro Distribution; Wilhite Solar Solutions; EnergyWise Alliance; KDH Solar; Carimi Contractors; and Mr Green Jeans Insulation.