Coalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar

first_imgCoalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect:An unlikely alliance of Tea Party conservatives and progressive climate advocates has come together to fight a controversial solar energy ballot initiative in Florida. Launched in 2015, the so-called “green tea” coalition that includes the Nature Conservancy, the Christian Coalition, the Sierra Club, are standing firm against a measure that would enshrine Florida’s anti-solar policies in the state constitution. The coalition views the amendment as a power grab by the state’s largest utility companies that could cripple the state’s nascent solar industry and undermine consumers’ ability to tap into Florida’s vast solar energy potential.The Florida Right to Solar Energy Choice Initiative, which heads to voters in November, would give residents “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.” The measure, known as “Amendment 1,” also mandates that “consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize” those that do.While Amendment 1 supporters frame the initiative as a pro-solar consumer-protection measure, opponents say the language is intentionally misleading:Despite its wording, the amendment does not actually allow consumers to lease home solar systems from a solar-power installer or developer. This financing model, also known as third-party leasing, has made solar systems more affordable for residents in many other states. Similarly, Florida residents already have the right to buy and use rooftop solar panels, and protections for energy consumers are strong.Instead, opponents stress that the measure is designed to enshrine the existing leasing ban in the Florida Constitution in tandem with a specific prohibition against “subsidies” for solar customers. Depending on how that language is interpreted and enforced, these changes could make solar power prohibitively expensive for the average Florida consumer and more difficult in the future to change policy.With the rapid growth of rooftop solar in recent years, major power companies in many states want to roll back the tax incentives that have played a critical role in making small-scale solar-power installations affordable for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and small businesses. But conservative Republicans and environmental advocates have joined forces against what they view as unfair market practices by large utility companies and their industry allies that have balked at the competition from small-scale solar systems.Boasting vast and largely untapped solar energy resources, the Sunshine State’s battle over rooftop solar systems has brought conservatives and progressives together in a joint effort to promote small-scale green energy. “This is about choice and freedom,” says Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Tea Party movement who recently joined the pro-solar policy fight in Florida. “I think Ronald Reagan said it best: Being good stewards of the environment that God gave us should not be a partisan issue.”In 2014, Dooley helped establish Conservatives for Energy Freedom, a national group that serves as a counterweight to the large, investor-owned utilities that have opposed the growth of residential solar-energy systems. These companies operate, generate, transmit, and distribute energy with almost no competition in Florida and elsewhere. “That government-created monopoly model really conflicts with conservative values,” says Dooley. “It’s about stifling competition.”The solution, Dooley realized, involved empowering consumers to generate their own electricity, particularly through rooftop solar systems. The group waged and won its first political battle in 2015 when Georgia passed a law that permits third-party leasing. Under the new law, consumers can now lease home sola- energy systems from installation companies and purchase the power generated by those systems at a discounted rate. This financing model allows Georgians to avoid the high upfront costs of buying a home solar system and has increased rooftop solar installations statewide.After the Georgia battle, the group turned its attention to Florida, where utility companies had recently won a fight to gut the state’s energy efficiency and solar rebate programs. These types of changes, Dooley says, “essentially block out the sun.” The power companies’ attempts to enshrine anti-solar policies in the state constitution could cripple Florida’s solar industry, she warns.The proposed amendment would ban “subsidies” for solar customers. Those subsides could include programs like net metering, which allows solar consumers to sell their excess power back to utilities at market rates. A net metering rate cut would make a home solar-power energy systems more expensive for most Florida homeowners.Florida largest power companies and conservative business groups are bankrolling a well-funded and coordinated pro–Amendment 1 effort. The Consumers for Smart Solar campaign emphasizes the need to “protect Floridians from scams and rip-offs” and “promote solar in the Sunshine State.” Since last summer, Consumers for Smart Solar has raised and spent more than $7.6 million, $2 million more than Governor Rick Scott’s re-election PAC, Let’s Get to Work, has pulled in.According to Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund, that rhetoric is designed to confuse voters, since Florida consumers currently have the right to own and use solar panels and third-party leasing is already banned. In fact, Florida is one of just four states that outlaw third-party leasing. Moreover, the initiative does not contain any new consumer protections. “They’re trying to undermine the economics of rooftop solar,” says Smith whose group is a “green tea” ally of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “You can see them dancing around that.”But Kallinger says solar customers should share the costs of operating the power grid. “If you choose to use solar, and you use the grid, you have to pay for the maintenance of that grid,” he says, echoing language utility company officials have used in Michigan, Nevada, and a few other states. In the coming months, Consumers for Smart Solar plans to step up its anti-solar campaign with “Yes on 1 for the Sun” TV ads, direct mailings, and a social media push.Yet there may be some dark clouds on the horizon for Amendment 1. A March Mason-Dixon Polling and Research survey of 625 registered Florida voters found that 64 percent of those polled supported the measure, while 18 percent opposed it and another 18 percent were ‘not sure.’ Support for the measure has dropped nearly 10 percentage points since a Hill Research Associates February survey commissioned by the proponents, Consumers for Smart Solar.Under Florida law, constitutional amendments must obtain 60 percent of the vote to pass. In recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Times, Sun Sentinel, and a handful of other Florida newspapers have expressed deep skepticism about Amendment 1, calling its language “deceptive” and “manipulative.”The Florida solar campaign demonstrates how that conservatives and progressives can find common ground on energy policy.Full article: Tea Partiers and Progressives Unite Against ‘Deceptive’ Florida Ballot Initiativelast_img read more

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People moves: Fidelity hires from Amundi for successor to Rossi

first_imgMuldoon worked in US government for more than 10 years, serving both the Barack Obama and George W Bush administrations. Her roles included deputy assistant to president Obama and counsellor to the US Treasury secretary. In a memo to staff, BlackRock said sustainable investment in Europe was one of its “biggest opportunities”. “Growth in sustainable investing is predicated on our ability to engage with clients to understand the outcomes they are seeking and to leverage our platform to deliver scalable solutions,” the memo said.KLM – Paul Loven has been appointed independent chairman of the KLM Pension Fund, effective from 1 February. Loven previously served as chief financial and risk officer at PGGM from 2009 to 2015. Prior to that, he was a member of the executive board of Van Lanschot Bank. In addition to his position at the KLM Pension Fund, Loven is a commissioner at a care organisation and he works as a consultant and coach on governance issues. His predecessor as chairman was Eltjo Kok, who took office in 2011 and retired in July 2017.Cindu International – Rita van Ewijk is the new chair of the Dutch pension fund of former chemicals company Cindu International as it prepares to join a general pension fund (APF). She was previously deputy director at ASR Verzekeringen, with responsibility for pension administration outsourcing and the establishment of the insurer’s APF. Before joining ASR, Van Ewijk was chair of the board of the Hoogovens pension fund and has also worked for APG. She succeeds Jacco Heemskerk, who left in October to lead Willis Towers Watson’s investment consulting team in the Netherlands.Macquarie Group –  The Australian-headquartered financial services group has made two hires to its transition management team, following the group’s appointment to the National LGPS Framework. Paul McGee joins Macquarie as a senior vice president, and Ben Mooney joins as a vice president. Both will join the group’s commodities and global markets group to assist institutional investors in moving money between mandates.McGee is a former head of State Street Global Markets’ transition management team, but left in 2016. Since then he has had spells in the transition management operations of private bank Coutts and asset manager M&G. Mooney joins directly from State Street Global Markets, and has previously worked at Wellington Management, Royal Bank of Canada and HSBC.Bouwinvest – The real estate investment arm of pension fund BpfBouw has restructured and expanded the acquisition team of Bouwinvest Residential Funds. The changes are designed to help the fund achieve its goal of investing €600m by 2020. Casper Hulsman becomes acquisition manager for residential and is responsible for purchases in The Hague, Leiden and western North Holland. Christian Schouten has been appointed as coordinator, also responsible for the acquisitions in Amsterdam, Utrecht and east Netherlands. Hymans Robertson – Risk-transfer expert Michael Abramson has joined consultancy firm Hymans Robertson as a partner and risk transfer specialist. He joins from Prudential where he was director of wholesale transactions. In 15 years working in consulting and insurance, including roles at Legal & General and Mercer, Abramson has worked on some of the largest derisking deals ever completed in the UK, his new employer said in a statement.Jupiter Asset Management – The UK-based listed asset manager has hired Talib Sheikh as head of strategy for multi-asset. He will join in June from JP Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM) to lead Jupiter’s expansion of its multi-asset offerings. Sheikh worked at JPMAM for nearly 20 years, building out the company’s multi-asset solutions team from inception in 2004.HSBC Global Asset Management – Fredrik Cygnaeus has joined HSBC GAM as managing director of its branch in Sweden. He will be responsible for building the group’s business across the Nordic region. He joins from Invesco where he led the company’s external wholesale business in the Nordics. He has also worked at Fidelity.Barnett Waddingham – The UK consultant has hired Mark Stocker its corporate consulting team. A qualified actuary, Stocker specialises in “pension scheme disputes, contentious matters and acting in an expert witness capacity”, the company said. He provided expert evidence to court in Ontario in relation to the collapse of Nortel Networks. He was previously a director and chief actuary at Conduent HR Services, and has also worked in senior roles at Mercer and LCP.OppenheimerFunds – Charles Oldmeadow has joined the US-based asset manager as business development director, focusing on intermediary clients and institutions in the UK. He joins from Jupiter Asset Management where he was responsible for discretionary wealth managers. Fidelity International, BlackRock, KLM, Cindu International, Macquarie, Bouwinvest, Hymans Robertson, Jupiter Asset Management, HSBC Global Asset Management, Barnett Waddingham, OppenheimerFundsFidelity International – The asset management giant has poached Romain Boscher from Amundi Asset Management to be its new global CIO for equities, effective 30 April 2018. He succeeds Dominic Rossi, who has moved to a public policy role within Fidelity. Boscher joined Amundi in 2011, and was previously deputy CEO and CIO at Groupama.Bart Grenier, global head of asset management at Fidelity International, described Boscher as “an investor with an exceptional track record”. He added: “Our equities franchise is a significant part of our business and we are passionate about delivering great active returns for our clients. I am delighted to welcome someone of such calibre into the company and I know that our equities franchise will continue to thrive and develop for the benefit of our clients under his leadership.”BlackRock – The world’s largest asset manager has appointed Meaghan Muldoon to lead its sustainable investing operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She was previously the group’s managing director of corporate strategy, based in New York, but has now relocated to London. She reports to Brian Deese, a former adviser to the US government who joined BlackRock last year.last_img read more

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