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Big Oil’s go-to scholar at it again

08 July 2014 15:49 by Patrick Flanagan

Controversial LSU professor David Dismukes has come under fire once again, this time from 20 solar-power groups over his role in a Louisiana Public Service Commission study on the costs and benefits of alternative energy.

Dismukes is an economics professor and executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies. He’s also the author of a highly-disputed study claiming Louisiana’s legal climate has caused an exodus of oil and gas companies from the state. Dismukes’ study has been a favored tool in the arsenal of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, especially in its recent fight against the New Orleans levee board’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. (Read more on the Dismukes’ study in our April cover story “Fatally Flawed” here.)

But recently, according to a report from the Baton Rouge Advocate, Dismukes has again come under fire, this time through his private company Acadian Consulting Group of Baton Rouge, which was hired by the PSC for a cost-benefit analysis of net metering — a process in which solar-powered homes/businesses provide excess electricity to power companies in exchange for credits.

On July 1, a group of 20 solar-power groups filed a complaint with the PSC for hiring Dismukes’ company, alleging a conflict of interest on the part of the LSU professor over his financial ties to the fossil fuels industry.

Dismukes, according to the complaint filed by Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association President C. Tucker Crawford, has a history of lobbying “for the elimination of renewable energy subsidies and the augmentation of fossil fuel subsidies.”

“It stands to reason that Acadian is predisposed against net metering,” Crawford writes in the complaint. “For these reasons, Acadian is incapable of generating an independent and unbiased evaluation of the costs and benefits of net metering in Louisiana.”

Further raising doubts as to Dismukes’ impartiality are more than $200,000 in donations he’s received in recent years from the fossil fuels industry, including $20,000 from the American Energy Alliance, $96,000 from America’s Natural Gas Alliance, $76,000 from Shell and $37,000 from the Louisiana oil and gas industry.