The LSU AgCenter solar report was not the only one to come out of LSU last year. David Dismukes, an economist at the university who runs a private consultancy called Acadian Consulting, released an economic study attacking distributed solar energy. It claimed the state’s tax credit for installing new solar panels would cost at least $89 million more than the benefits created by the solar industry. While the Dismukes study was commissioned to analyze the cost of distributed solar systems to other ratepayers, Dismukes instead focused on the state’s 50% tax credit for installing new solar panels and said that those credits cost the state at least $89 million.

Politifact, an independent fact-checking journalism project of Tampa Bay Times, studied claims made by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) after the publication of Dismukes’ study. AFP claimed that electricity prices were skyrocketing because of solar subsidies and net metering. Politifact debunked the claim, saying, “The statement is completely wrong” and issued AFP its worst rating, “Pants on Fire”.

Politifact determined that increases in ratepayers bills did occur but not as a result of solar policies:

Louisiana customers outside of New Orleans did see a base rate hike in 2014, which cost the average ratepayer about 47 cents per month. But that increase was approved by the PSC in 2013 and was over several issues, including the cost of maintaining an aging power grid. Electric utility company Entergy did not specifically mention solar as being an issue when announcing the base rate change… So while Louisiana did see a rate increase, we don’t see evidence that it was specifically related to a solar initiative.

Furthermore, Sierra Club exposed severe flaws in Dismukes’ report. Sierra Club concluded:

No other net-metering cost-benefit analysis in the country has included state- authorized tax incentives as a cost. Public utility commissions have no authority over tax incentives and legislative policy choices, and such incentives are a cost to the state treasury not utilities or ratepayers. When these tax incentives are excluded from the utility’s cost calculation, as they should be, the study demonstrates actually that net metering provides a clear economic benefit to utilities and ratepayers.

Dismukes’ clients at Acadian include:

  • Cajun Electric Cooperative
  • CLECO Corporation
  • Consolidated Edison
  • Duke Energy Gas Transmission
  • Duquesne Light Company
  • NRG Energy
  • AGL Resources
  • ANR Pipeline Company
  • Colorado Interstate Gas Transmission
  • Columbia Gas Transmission
  • El Paso Corporation
  • Evangeline Gas Company
  • Florida Gas Transmission Company
  • Mississippi River Transmission
  • Reliant Energy Gas Transmission
  • Sempra Energy
  • Texas Gas Transmission
  • Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation
  • Truckline Gas Company
  • Lake Charles Cogeneration LLC
  • U.S. Oil and Gas Association

Dismukes has also presented at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In 2011, Dismukes presented to the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force on two different topics. In one of the presentations, Dismukes is critical of EPA Clean Air Act standards.

Posted by Matt Kasper

Matt Kasper is the Research Director at the Energy & Policy Institute. He focuses on defending policies that further the development of clean energy sources. He also frequently focuses on the companies and their front groups that obstruct policy solutions to global warming. His work has appeared in The Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and other outlets.