Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exelon Joins Others In Dropping U.S. Chamber Membership

Sep 28: Exelon Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe urged utility industry leaders, regulators and policymakers at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) national conference to continue pushing for sensible climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon. Rowe said, “The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible. Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.”

In his speech, Rowe recognized the need to balance our nation’s fragile economic recovery with the need to address climate change, and pointed to energy efficiency as a lower-cost way to meet those goals. Rowe discussed how Exelon utilities ComEd and PECO plan to spend $290 million per year over the next five years on energy-efficiency and demand response programs. The plan aims to help customers reduce their energy use by more than 3.7 million megawatt hours and cut peak load by 388 megawatts. Exelon’s energy-efficiency programs place the company third among the nation’s utilities in terms of customer energy savings.

Rowe announced that Exelon will not be renewing its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of their stance on climate change legislation. The company joins other recent similar announcements from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee; New Mexico power company PNM; and Duke Energy and Alstom who publicly gave up their membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy. Also, Nike has said it fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change [
See WIMS 9/24/09].

In making his announcement Rowe said, "Some see carbon legislation as just another issue they can use as a cudgel against President Obama. In the short term they may be right. But the EPA has received license from the Supreme Court to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. If Congress doesn’t act, the EPA will. The result will be more arbitrary, more expensive and more uncertain for investors and the industry than a reasonable legislative solution. I am disappointed that Congressional Republicans and business groups can’t recognize this reality. Because of their stridency against carbon legislation, Exelon has decided not to renew its membership in the US Chamber this year."

Chicago-based Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately $19 billion in annual revenues. The company distribute electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in Illinois (ComEd) and Pennsylvania (PECO), and gas to 485,000 customers in the Philadelphia area (PECO). Exelon has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Exelon operates what it says is the largest and most efficient nuclear fleet in the United States and the third largest commercial nuclear fleet in the world.

Access a release from Exelon (click here). Access the full text of Rowe's speech (click here). Access the Exelon website for more information (click here). Access ACEEE's website on the 5th annual conference on energy efficiency (click here). Access an E&ETV interview with PG&E's Peter Darbee (click here). Access various media reports from NYT, WSJ, WP and others (click here).