Posted: 11:30 am Monday, June 2nd, 2014

New carbon limits put David Perdue’s utility ties in spotlight 

By Greg Bluestein

The Obama administration’s announcement today that it wants to fight climate change by slashing carbon pollution will undoubtedly rile up GOP candidates for office. But it also puts one high-profile Georgia contender’s ties to a utility in the spotlight.

Both businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston, who square off in a July 22 GOP runoff for the open Senate seat, have vowed to oppose more regulations for carbon dioxide by arguing that the red tape will hamper business.

But Perdue’s role with a utility company that has flirted with support of a cap-and-trade system – anathema to many Republicans today – places him in a trickier position.

The former Fortune 500 executive has sat on the board of Alliant Energy Corporation, a Wisconsin-based utility with more than 1.4 million customers, since 2001, a span that included President Barack Obama’s push for a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions that scientists blame for trapping heat and warming the planet.

Several tipsters opposed to Perdue pointed out that during that time, Perdue served on the board’s environmental and safety committee and the company’s leaders voiced support for the efforts.

The utility’s chief executive, Bill Harvey, applauded the board in an October 2009 conference call for becoming one of the first utilities to support a national program to reduce greenhouse gases by taking steps such as shuttering less efficient coal-fired plants. And the same year, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that Harvey came out in favor of the cap-and-trade system.

According to the Gazette:

“Harvey said Alliant supports a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas regulation but prefers a system that would allow utilities an initial allotment of credits to emit greenhouse gases rather than a system that would require them to bid at auction for their initial credits. He said any funds raised from the auction should be invested in technologies for reducing greenhouse gases.”

Perdue’s spokesman Derrick Dickey said that the businessman had no role in the utility’s cap and trade position. He has also said, when Perdue’s opponents pointed out that Alliant received $3.4 million in stimulus money, that a member of the 10-person board has limited say in the corporation’s daily actions.

“A board of directors at a company that size is not involved in granular level operational decision making,” Dickey told The Hill. “Of course the board has a general awareness of the company’s activities, most of which are highlighted in annual and quarterly public reports; however, it does not direct the day-to-day operational decisions.”

22 comments
larryauerbach
larryauerbach

The issue here is not Perdue's position on cap and trade or on pollution - though those are of interest.  The issue is that he was one of ten board members and seems to deny responsibility for, or even knowledge of major positions at the company.  This calls into question either his candor or his diligence.  Either way, not a high recommendation to be a U.S. Senator.

BigHat
BigHat

Evolution, global warming and honest politicians:  lies all straight from the pit of H*ll !

EdUktr
EdUktr

Hey, has Michelle Nunn made her tax returns available yet? Somehow I haven't come across any AJC coverage of that.

Somehow.

DS
DS

We've had cap and trade in the US for over 20 years now, with the acid rain program, which has significantly reduced targeted pollutants without crippling industry or driving up costs.

It works, if you set the caps at effective levels.

findog
findog

The GOP wrote cap and trade; with a give away to the energy sector.  What they are against is polluter's paying for those credits that they wanted to give away.  It is just like the big wall street bank bailout - the GOP [W] gave the too big to fail banks billions to "lend" that they then invested in treasury notes instead of main street; because that is free enterprise.  Asking people [corporations are people too] to pay for ANYTHING is a TAX and that is down right un-American!

Arms_Akimbo
Arms_Akimbo

Isn't it refreshing to actually have a candidate with real world experience in the energy sector. Rather than merely focusing on stereotype characterizations like "climate change is anathema to the GOP" Perdue is in a unique position to comment on the viability of power sources whether it be coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, or wind. What people forget, and Obama conveniently never mentions, is the cost of production in 2014. Solar and wind technologies are not cost competitive without government subsidies and unfortunately Federal funding in the alternative energy space during the Obama era has essentially been a kickback scheme, at taxpayer expense, for Democrat campaign contributors. I am sure Michelle Nunn has an opinion on which power generating technology best serves Georgians. She is just waiting for the Democratic Party to tell her what that opinion is.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

What the hell are "granular level operations?" Did I miss the latest update in corporate doublespeak?

scrappy-22
scrappy-22

1) Being for or against cap and trade would be a major company policy, it would not fall within "day to day operations"

2) I would personally love to know how much he has been paid to be on the board that neither is involved in day to day operations nor major company policies.  um... that leaves what? 

3) Also is hilarious that the CEO applauded such a move, and to the entire GOP it is anathema.

This is the only environment we have people, we certainly should be taking steps to protect it!

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Anybody else see Cosmos last night?  


One notable thing about the climate 'debate' is how one-sided it is, and Boehner made that quite evident this past week. Unlike other conservatives, Boehner is at least willing to admit he is not qualified to evaluate the science.


Now if we can just get the other's to either admit the same thing or take a few years of advanced stats and quantitative methodology to offer a data-driven criticism we can put this issue to rest and start reforming. But it won't happen...the data are clear and conservatives are not interested in education.  It is so much easier to get talking points from their Big Oil financiers.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Carbon limits are a good step, however, if it's *just* carbon and we are still emitting huge amounts of other pollution, then the step is very limited. 

Also, it's limited because the US is part of a global network of energy producers, and it is up to other countries to take steps as well.  If the US is the only country taking steps, then the global results will be limited as well. 


But still, a good step in the right direction. 

honested
honested

@DS 

All the while, the forests are recovering.

Another negative offshoot of the 'adversarial system' for settling disputes. Well paid, intelligent individuals waste years making foolish arguments which, in this case, do little but protect the inheritance of the next generation of plutocrats.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Arms_Akimbo 

 Isn't it refreshing to actually have a candidate with real world experience in the energy sector.

Arbusto Energy says, "What?"

honested
honested

@Arms_Akimbo 

'solar and wind technologies are not cost competitive without government subsidies'

Straw Man Alert!

Coal is not cost competitive unless taxpayers are burdened with remediation costs and tolerate the now obvious long term climate degradation. 

Strip all subsidies from fossil fuels, eliminate all 'free' military security provided to petroleum extraction and transport, get utility companies busy on maximizing solar and wind then get back to me.

findog
findog

@Aquagirl Executives are too busy to review anything longer than one page; granular is detail that spills over from their one-page attention span.  So Perdue's big selling point of being a titan of industry goes only as deep as the cover letter...

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@Baumer_1 Ok . . . so let's focus the universe of solutions OTHER than cap-and-trade . . . just to see how serious you and the fascists really are.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@LogicalDude Carbon limits in-and-of themselves aren't the issue. You are dodging the issue, which is the COST and who pays, how much, and WHY. I'm all for "carbon limits"; I'd set yours at zero.

honested
honested

@LogicalDude 

Luckily, the US is not in any way the only country taking steps.

The largest emitter of coal related poisons is taking large steps. Europe is decades ahead of the United States in taking steps and lower priced renewable generation options make it much less likely that the developing world will make the same bad choices we have in the United States.

Massive reduction on poisonous coal for electrical generation in the United States coupled with the very reasonable increases in CAFE standards will put us on track to be back to where we were in 1998 for emissions reduction as well as reduced addiction to all fossil fuels.

Arms_Akimbo
Arms_Akimbo

@honested @Arms_Akimbo 

You don't know what you are talking about. "military security for petroleum extraction"? You are delusional. Let me help you: coal cost per MW= 3 cents. solar cost per MW 9 cents. In order to build solar power plants, utilities need to cover that 6 cent delta by entering into long term power purchase agreements (ppas) with the government and ultimately the taxpayer to provide the difference in cost. I suppose that in your world, there is never a cloudy day and power storage systems are sophisticated enough to handle solar power plants. Solar is simply not ready for primetime as a technology yet. The nice thing is that Perdue will have an informed opinion on this issue. Oh by the way, when you figure out how to get China and India to stop their coal fired power production, get back to me.   

honested
honested

@DawgDadII @Baumer_1 

Ahem,

Reread the definition of 'fascists'.

It applies more directly to those in charge of electricity production and owning the 'stranded costs' than those capable of comprehending the tremendous damage caused by blindly focusing on 'profitability' of our current arcane strategy of energy production.

The-Centrist
The-Centrist

You're partially correct, but you need to consider all the costs.

Food costs are going higher because of droughts in the west, affecting beef production and other shortages.

Taxes are higher because we have to spend more on FEMA responses to weird weather which causes wild fires and severe storms.

Your homeowners insurance is much higher because insurers have to try to predict the costs of fires and storms and build those costs into premiums that we all pay.

The new regs aren't going to cost all that much - ignoring the issue will be much more expensive.

honested
honested

@Arms_Akimbo @honested 

Another little detail, tell us all about the shareholder financed mercury remediation efforts the Southern Company is about to announce?

It would be nice to have more Georgia rivers where the fish were safe for human consumption.

honested
honested

@Arms_Akimbo @honested 

And I guess the coal plants are built and maintained for free?

Your calculus only works if you leave out the expenses you want others to absorb.

Every building has a roof and every roof can contribute.

Of course, in this state, we must first set aside the onerous 'territorial act' so schools, government buildings and others can participate and make use of financing outside the controlled structure of the Southern Company.

China (and to a lesser extent India) are moving to do something about their coal consumption now, while the air there is still barely breathable.