Capitol Week-in-Review – March 30, 2017

President Issues Executive Order to Promote Energy Independence and Economic Growth

On Tuesday, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled: Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The preamble of the Order states:

It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation’s geopolitical security.

It is further in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean, and that it can be produced from coal, natural gas, nuclear material, flowing water, and other domestic sources, including renewable sources.

Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States that executive departments and agencies immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law. 

To effectuate this new policy, the President has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend, revise, or rescind four actions related to the Clean Power Plan – the Obama Administration’s strategy to combat global warming.

By way of background, the Clean Power Plan requires all states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030 through substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, greater use of natural gas and renewable resources to generate electricity and significant investments in energy efficiency.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission estimated the cost of compliance with this EPA plan to be as much as $13.4 billion. An economic study by the Beacon Hill Institute concluded that if these regulations are put in place, by 2030, the average commercial business would pay an additional $1,530 a year for electricity. The average industrial ratepayer would pay an additional $105,094 a year in 2030.

WIB shares the President’s view that electricity must be affordable, reliable, safe, secure, and clean. Under the Clean Power Plan, electricity would be more expensive and less reliable for small, independent businesses. We hope the EPA will work quickly to carry out the President’s directive.

Mark Your Calendar for Election Day – Tuesday, April 4

The 2017 Spring Election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4. The polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m.

There is only one contested statewide race on the ballot. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is seeking re-election to another four-year term. His opponent, Lowell Holtz, is a retired Whitnall School District Superintendent.

For some voters, there will county and\or municipal elections as well as school district referenda on the ballot. If you have further questions or need additional voting-related information, please visit My Vote Wisconsin.

State Settles with DIRECTV over Billing and Cancellation Issues

The Wisconsin Departments of Justice and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have reached a consent judgment with DIRECTV to resolve consumer complaints related to billing violations and inadequate cancellation disclosures. The settlement includes $292,500 in forfeitures and assessments and a $4.25 bill credit to eligible customers.

The judgment requires DIRECTV to make changes in its communications with customers. The company must provide written notice to customers of price increases in television offerings that are subject to an early termination fee. DIRECTV must also note the effective date of the increase and the new price for each offering. In addition, these written notices will address cancellation procedures for customers who wish to end services at the time of a price increase without paying an early termination fee.

The $4.25 bill credit will be given within ninety days of the entry of the consent judgment to each of DIRECTV’s current customers who were:

  • affected by one or more price increases to their television core programming packages that went into effect from January 2010 to March 7, 2017, and
  • subject to an early termination fee at the time of the price increase.

DIRECTV customers who are eligible for the credit will likely see it listed on an upcoming bill as “WI Settlement Credit.”