There is another election runoff in Louisiana this cycle. It’s not getting as much coverage as the U.S. Senate race, but it is being watched by powerful special interests.
The race pits incumbent Eric Skrmetta against Forest Wright for a seat on the Public Services Commission. Both are Republicans. But only one, Skrmetta, has been a Republican for more than six months. Wright switched parties to run for the PSC in 2014 because his previous attempt in 2012 as a Democrat met with failure. Columnist Jeremy Alford went so far as to call Wright “one bright spot for the Democrats” this cycle because his victory “could create a quasi-Democratic majority on the PSC.
Yeah, you’re thinking Wright is one of those old school southern Democrats, right? No. He’s very much new school. He’s an advocate for solar power and a vocal supporter of the state’s net metering policy. As we have reported before, net metering is the controversial policy that requires middle- and lower-class rate payers to subsidize power for wealthy customers who have solar panels installed on their roofs. And he boasts that Louisiana has the best residential solar tax credit in the country. Little surprise then that his campaign is being financed by the very solar industry that stands to make billions of those “incentives.” Virtually all of his campaign donations, as of October 1, 2014, “came from businesses or individuals in the solar industry.”
Before announcing his candidacy, Wright was the Utility Policy Director for The Alliance For Affordable Energy, a New Orleans consumer watchdog organization. That fact should alarm conservatives. Based upon The Alliance For Affordable Energy website, you can expect Wright to be a “global warming” alarmist and one those advocating shutting down coal plants that provide affordable energy to non-wealthy Louisianans:
“To preserve our culture and economy, the Alliance for Affordable Energy is working to develop policy solutions that will decrease global warming pollution. Through coalitions, we successfully fought off a dirty coal plant that would have cost ratepayers $1.7 billion and released millions of tons of pollution.”
Newly Republican candidate Forest Wright has professional and advocacy ties to Democrat mega-donor Tom Steyer. According to its fiscal year 2012-2013 990 (the most recent year for which they are available) the Alliance for Affordable Energy received more than 40% of all of its income from the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation. In that time, the Energy Foundation received more than $2 million from Tom Steyer via his TomKat Charitable Trust.
In essence, Forest Wright worked for Tom Steyer.
Mind you, he’s running as a Republican – but a Tom Steyer Republican.