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Americans Using Less Electricity; ALEC Attacks to Protect Market Share

An eager reader makes a fascinating connection between power use and ALEC. As I noted yesterday from Barbara Sogn-Frank's excellent column, the American Legislative Exchange Council is working on behalf of Big Oil, Big Coal, and other members of the Koch Kartel to prevent citizens from adopting small-scale renewable energy. This push to keep citizens dependent on corporate energy sources comes as household energy usage is dropping:

According to the Energy Information Administration, power usage is on track to decline this year for the third year in a row. And there are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, as energy prices rose in the early 2000s, more states adopted or toughened building codes, making builders seal homes better.

Bigger appliances like refrigerators and air conditions have become more efficient, thanks to federal energy standards that get stricter every year. According to manufacturers, a typical room air conditioner uses 20 percent less electricity than it did in 2001. Some TVs use 80 percent less power than similar units in the past. And incandescent light bulbs are being replaced with fluorescent bulbs and LEDs that use 70 to 80 percent less power.

And then there's the switch from computers to laptops, tablets and smart phones. The Electric Power Research Institute says it costs more than $28 to power a desktop for a year -- as opposed to $1.36 to power an iPad ["Home Electricity Use in U.S. Falling to 2001 Levels," AP via, 2013.12.30].

Hmmm... maybe I need to ditch my balky Toshiba laptop and get a keyboard for my Galaxy tablet....

A combination of smart regulation, smart consumers, and smart technology are helping us conserve energy. Burning less oil and coal now means our supplies of those resources last longer. The only thing wrong with that plan is that the ALEC-Koch crowd doesn't make as much money.

But rather than acting like good capitalists and offering new and improved goods and services to a changing marketplace, the Koch brothers want to use government to prevent consumers from making choices that hurt Big Oil and Big Coal's profits. Hence, ALEC co-opts South Dakota legislators to attack renewables and conservation.

It spins the mind that an organization dedicated to "free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism" really wants government intervention on its behalf. But such black-is-white rhetoric and tactics are the classic tools of corporate fascists and totalitarians dedicated not to truth or principle but to the preservation of their own power.


  1. Rick 2013.12.31

    How stupid are you? Do you want to keep your money in your pocket? Or do you want your money filling the pockets of the coal and oil corporations?

    You don't have to be an environmentalist to have the correct answer.

  2. Donald Pay 2013.12.31

    I've followed ALEC since the 1990s. From its founding the organization was built to serve the corporate elites. That remains its purpose. They have never, ever been "free-market" oriented, though they sometimes throw a few "free market" issues out there when they don't clash with some corporate interest.

    As an example, in the 1990s they claimed that "deregulation" of energy markets was a "free market" solution for energy. Some of the big energy corporations, like Enron, had bought seats on the ALEC board and had pushed this flawed idea. (Interesting now that some of the big utilities, many of whom opposed ALEC's deregulation agenda, are now in control of ALEC policy, there are these attempts to prevent a real market from developing.) You can basically predict what ALEC "model legislation" gets pushed by who forks over money.

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