Tom Stacy once staked the credibility of his Ohio-based anti-wind power group on a claim that they had received “zero dollars and zero cents” from the energy industry, but that was before he became a paid consultant for a fossil fuel-funded think tank.
Stacy was the leader of the anti-wind group Save Western Ohio when he appeared before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in 2008 to oppose the bill that established Ohio’s renewable energy standards.
“And also for the record, Save Western Ohio has received zero dollars and zero cents from the oil, coal, nuclear, geothermal, solar, E-83, residential real-estate groups, or any other organized concern, and specifically from Exxon Mobil…,” he stated.
But by 2016, Stacy was singing a different tune.
“So yes, I have been paid something for some consulting work with local opposition groups and by some policy groups as well,” as Stacy said in a 2016 interview.
As documented in more detail below, by 2014 Stacy had been “hired” to do work for the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a think tank that has received funding from the fossil fuel industry. IER is known for its efforts to sow doubt about the risks of climate change and for its misleading attacks on clean energy policies.
As far back as 2008, Stacy had established ties to the Heartland Institute, another fossil fuel-funded think tank behind controversial attacks on climate science and renewable energy policies. In 2010, Stacy would reveal that his group, Save Western Ohio, had a “network of experts” that included the Heartland Institute and “experts from the energy industry” who worked together to “promote and market” anti-wind power views, as well as recruit witnesses and review testimony for public hearings on energy issues.
Decisions about NWW policy are made by the Board of Directors, who are unpaid volunteers with no affiliations to fossil fuel or nuclear energy industries or any similar outside interests. National Wind Watch has an official conflict of interest policy which all directors are required to affirm in writing on an annual basis.
Asked about how this statement from the National Wind Watch jives with his paid work for IER, Stacy provided a response that he asked be published in its entirety and not excerpted, which can be viewed here. Stacy dodged the issue of whether the National Wind Watch’s statement is misleading, and, to paraphrase, said that he has only accepted funding to do work he believes in, and has never accepted funding to express views he does not hold.
Stacy was a co-founder of the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED), an anti-wind coalition of largely undisclosed “individuals, organizations, communities, and businesses” now led by the New York and North Carolina-based climate skeptic John Droz, Jr.
Stacy has also been involved with local anti-wind power groups like the Michigan-based Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC) led by Kevon Martis. Martis is also a senior policy fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), which has received funding from coal producers like Arch Coal and Peabody Energy.
Stacy holds a B.A. in Industrial Marketing from Ohio State University, and from 1989 to 2008 worked for Midwest Plastic Systems as a “sales agent for plastics machinery manufacturers and as a consultant to client base recommending best alternatives for machinery purchases.” He served on the Energy Policy Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers from 2008-2011.
Stacy has recently marketed himself as a self-educated energy expert with “absolutely NO CREDENTIALS specific to the bulk power system” who is nonetheless “fairly well regarded by some lawmakers, educators, engineers, business owners, and regulators involved in the sector.”
His efforts over the past decade to oppose Ohio’s renewable energy standard and back restrictive regulations for new wind farms have earned Stacy a strongly worded endorsement from Bill Seitz, a state legislator who has led the opposition to wind power in Ohio and now serves as the Republican Majority Floor Leader for the Ohio House of Representatives.
“There will be no wind farms,” Rep. Seitz was quoted as saying in a 2017 investigation by Inside Climate News and The Weather Channel that shed light on the role that fossil fuel and utility interests have played in the decade-long war on renewable energy in Ohio.
Tom Stacy was “hired” by the fossil fuel-funded Institute for Energy Research
Rep. Seitz was the chairman of both the Ohio House Majority Caucus Policy Committee and the Public Utilities Committee at the start of 2017, when he took the lead on drafting a new bill to end Ohio’s renewable energy standards.
“Please review the enclosed attachments as a preview of our meeting,” Seitz said in a February 22, 2017 email to several state representatives who would join him in sponsoring the bill, including primary sponsor Rep. Louis Blessing III, who introduced it as HB 114 the following month.
Among the documents attached to Seitz’s email was a copy of a 2015 Institute for Energy Research report co-authored by Tom Stacy titled, “The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources.”
Stacy has co-authored two editions of that same report for IER, the second an updated version released in 2016. During that same two-year time period, IER received funding from fossil fuel and utility interests, including the Koch network, coal producer Peabody Energy, and the Edison Electric Institute.
Stacy disclosed during a December 2017 presentation to the Task Force on Energy Policy, which is chaired by Seitz, that he and a colleague “were hired to research and report the levelized cost of electricity from EXISTING generation resources” back in 2014.
Stacy’s co-author on both reports was George S. Taylor, the director of Palmetto Energy Research. Taylor is also a senior policy fellow at the E&E Legal, which received funding from Arch Coal in 2014 and Peabody Energy in 2015.
Stacy made no mention of the money he had received from IER during his July 2017 testimony against budget amendment designed to ease Ohio’s onerous setback requirements for new wind farms.
Seitz has credited Stacy for his work in 2014 to help pass legislation that resulted in a two-year freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and, separately, established restrictive regulations on new wind farms.
Stacy lists “Apr 2014-present” as the timeframe for his work as a “Electricity System Economics Consultant” on his LinkedIn profile, and provides his work on the IER reports an example of his experience as a consultant.
“I am an independent advocate for affordable electricity for all rate classes, and an electricity market and policy analyst,” Stacy said in his April 2014 testimony on the bill that froze Ohio’s renewable energy standard. “I came here of my own accord because I care about Ohio’s future, and I am appearing here without compensation.”
Stacy’s testimony favored reliance on existing coal and nuclear power plants, and opposed “mandates” requiring new power generation from renewables, especially wind power. He also cited and linked to a 2014 blog post titled “Charles Koch on Cronyism” by Robert L. Bradley, the CEO and founder of IER.
The wind and solar power industries have debunked Tom Stacy’s research for the Institute for Energy Research, which PolitiFact dubbed an “outlier”
“Our study shows that on average, electricity from new wind resources is nearly four times more expensive than from existing nuclear and nearly three times more expensive than from existing coal,” according to a summary of Stacy and Taylor’s 2015 report found on IER’s website.
A fact check by the American Wind Energy Association said Stacy and Taylor used “obsolete wind cost assumptions” in their analysis.
The 2016 version of Stacy and Taylor’s report similarly claimed “… electricity from new wind and solar power is 2.5 to 5 times more expensive than electricity from existing coal and nuclear power.”
E&E News reported in 2016 that a spokesperson for the Solar Energy Industries Association “called the study ‘a textbook apples-to-oranges comparison’ based on the premise that the country’s current fleet of power plants, many of which have already exceeded their life expectancies, can operate for decades longer.”
“The study seems an outlier in saying that when ‘all known costs’ are considered, the average U.S. cost of producing electricity from established coal-fired plants is far less than new wind-power generation,” PolitiFact found.
Nonetheless, Stacy and Taylor’s work for IER has been cited in attacks on Ohio’s renewable energy standard, including in 2015 testimony by Greg Lawson of the Buckeye Institute, another Koch-funded group. Lawson’s testimony resurfaced in December 2016 when coal producer Robert Murray of Murray Energy attached a copy of it to his own testimony against the standard.
The 2015 report that Stacy and Taylor wrote for IER was also cited in a 2017 IHS Markit report sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute, Nuclear Energy Institute, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry later cited the IHS Markit report in a failed proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a proposal that was viewed as a thinly veiled bail out package for the Ohio-based electric utility FirstEnergy and Murray Energy.
Tom Stacy’s relationship with the Institute for Energy Research continued after his reports were published in 2015 and 2016
Stacy’s relationship with IER continued after the publication of his updated report in July 2016. Stacy said that he could be reached through IER in an October 2016 online comment in which he also used the term “brainwashed” to describe young conservatives who support clean energy.
“Call me with questions,” Stacy said. “I can be found on Facebook (Thomas Stacy) and LinkedIn, or through the Institute for Energy Research in Washington DC. Let’s not mince words: ‘With young conservatives co-opted by the green dreamers, who needs liberals?’”
Emails previously made public by the Energy and Policy Institute show Stacy also included Robert Bradley of IER in his November 2016 communications with Seitz and other state legislators in Ohio.
“Tom Stacy is, indeed, a ‘heroic Ohioan for affordable electricity,’” Bradley later opined in a September 2017 blog post. “Underpaid and overworked, he speaks truth to wind power at every opportunity in his state and beyond.”
Bradley then republished a letter to the editor from Stacy that had been appeared in a local newspaper in Ohio. Stacy’s letter praised natural gas and attacked wind power.
It’s not just a couple reports – Tom Stacy has been working closely with a “network” of fossil fuel funded groups for years
IER has for years promoted Stacy on its blog MasterResource.org, which the group has also used to publicize the work of other top anti-winders like Martis of the IICC, and the New Hampshire-based Lisa Linowes.
Like Stacy, Linowes and Martis have also played a key role in the attacks on wind power in Ohio.
An October 2013 message from Martis and Stacy included a fundraising pitch to pay for witnesses who could back an earlier bill backed by Seitz, then a state senator. The message was found in a document posted to the anti-wind website NoAuglaizeWind.wordpress.com.
“Senator Seitz then asked me to assemble experts from various fields to testify in support of Sub SB 58 – and specifically to ‘set the record straight’ regarding the high true cost and low true value of wind electricity,” said Stacy. “I have done so. The witness list is attached.”
“I now need to fund the witnesses’ travel expenses and, in a few cases, honorarium fees,” Stacy also said. “I currently have commitments for $3500 and need $4500 more within a few days. Your help is needed!!!”
The witness list included Daniel Simmons of IER, Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute, and Stacy’s future co-author George Taylor of the American Tradition Institute, later renamed E&E Legal.
In addition to Lehr, Simmons, and Taylor, another of Stacy’s witnesses had ties to a fossil fuel-funded think tank.
“Recently the Institute for Energy Research in Washington DC published a study I wrote examining wind energy cost estimates,” said Dr. Michael Giberson in his testimony at the hearing. “I understand this report has been circulated within the committee by the Chairman.
The Chairman was Seitz.
“My remarks and positions expressed today are my own and I do not represent the views of my current or former employers nor any other organization,” Giberson then said in a footnote to his testimony.
Emails obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute show Linowes also provided talking points to Seitz’s staff in response to the American Wind Energy Association’s testimony on SB 58.
A few days after the hearing, Stacy sent an email to Jamie Lynch, a legislative aide to Seitz.
“How can my network assist your efforts on behalf of sub SB 58 at this time?” Stacy asked. “Please call me to discuss.”
Tom Stacy’s role in the Heartland Institute’s decade-long war on clean energy in Ohio
The Heartland Institute has been attacking Ohio’s renewable energy standards for over a decade, and it has found willing allies in Stacy and Seitz.
In his aforementioned 2008 testimony, Stacy defended Save Western Ohio’s credibility by stating that his group was not funded by ExxonMobil. He then went on to respond to an environmental group’s work to “discredit the testimony of James Taylor of the Heartland Institute,” a climate skeptic think tank that received $676,500 from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2006.
Stacy was in Columbus to oppose a clean energy bill, SB 221, which the Ohio General Assembly later passed with near-unanimous bipartisan support. The new law included a requirement that 12.5 percent of Ohio’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2025.
Seitz actually voted in favor of the same clean energy bill in 2008. However, Seitz has since claimed that he only voted for the bill as part of a compromise that empowered him to write legislation to regulate the development of new wind farms.
Seitz was then the “principal drafter” of the bill – HB 562 – that led the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to adopt new regulations for “the construction, operation and maintenance of electric generation wind facilities.”
Stacy filed comments on the draft wind farm rules developed by the OPSB, with a Heartland-like quote under his signature line that read, “The debate is over: Global Warming theory’s financial impact on you is man-made.”
“In the late spring of 2008 and based on my experience with several local governments over the prior year, I approached Senator Bill Seitz and shared my opinion that there existed a dire need for consistent, state-wide regulations for wind energy projects,” Stacy said in another set of comments he filed with the OPSB.
“I provided extensive reports, studies, articles to the Senator as well as to the Public Utilities Committee of the General Assembly over the past year,” he said.
Seitz later noted “our success in establishing the first statewide power siting law for wind energy facilities” in his endorsement of Stacy.
In 2009, Tom Stacy wrote a review of the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) in New York:
… the Heartland Institute’s climate-change summit was forged around a cadre of professional climatologists, atmospheric physicists, and economists who see the effects of a global-warming “hoax” as the death knell for scientific inquiry and the capitalist system of free enterprise. Many, if not most, were hoping that they could lend themselves in a fight for scientific truth and against an egregious global-warming scam.
DeSmogBlog has documented how over the years, the sponsors of Heartland’s semi-annual ICCC events have included special interest groups that have received millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry.
Stacy’s group, Save Western Ohio, also found a “friend” in a Thomas Tanton in 2009, according to Tanton’s LinkedIn profile. At the time, Tanton was listed as a “global warming expert” for the Heartland Institute. A 2008 anti-wind article that Tanton wrote for Heartland’s Environment & Climate News quoted Stacy as comparing the wind power industry to Enron.
Tanton had previously worked as vice president and senior fellow for IER, and his work continues to be featured on IER’s blog. In 2009, Tanton was also a senior fellow for the Koch-backed Pacific Research Institute. Today he is the Director of Science and Technology Assessment for the coal-backed E&E Legal.
During a 2010 podcast interview with James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, Stacy described Save Western Ohio’s “network of experts” and its work in some detail. Some highlights from their conversation can be found in the excerpts below:
… Well, we have a network of experts, a few of which come from the Heartland Institute, yourself included, who are either policy or science experts. We have experts from the energy industry. We have economics experts from around the country. We’ve just attracted a network of people who really do have the right credentials and the right answers, and then we try to distill or synthesize the best of all the angles. It’s a fairly complex thing to promote and market.
… Well, what we do typically is try to reach out to people around the state who would be affected by new state laws and who are interested, and we offer to review, first we enlighten them to when testimony may be taken and come to Columbus and speak, and we offer to look at their testimony in advance and offer our opinions and suggestions. And kind of look over what the legislators are going to hear from like-minded people, and make sure we have all our bases covered.
The Ohio-based Murray Energy contributed $100,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2010. Marathon Petroleum, also headquartered in Ohio, gave $2,500 to Heartland that year.
Stacy also wrote another tribute from the Heartland Institute’s 2010 climate denial conference. In his dispatch from the 2010 ICCC, Stacy praised presentations by climate deniers like Dr. Wei-hock “Willie” Soon, who for years secretly amassed funding from fossil fuel and utility interests like ExxonMobil and Southern Company.
More recently, the Heartland Institute has echoed Stacy’s work for IER as part of its new pro-coal campaign. Stacy’s 2016 report for IER was cited in Heartland’s 2018 report, “How the Premature Retirement of Coal-Fired Power Plants Affects Energy Reliability, Affordability.” The Heartland Institute’s report was co-authored by Fred Palmer, who previously worked for coal producer Peabody Energy from 2001-2015.
The Heartland Institute has also continued to back Rep. Seitz’s attacks on the renewable energy standard in Ohio.
Despite years of political attacks, support for wind power remains strong
Tom Stacy recently provided “analysis” for anti-wind activists in Ohio to use to attack recent polls by the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Those polls, like others before them, demonstrate how public support for wind power remains strong despite the years of misleading attacks backed by the fossil fuel industry.