Three utility giants have made news recently by quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Their finer sensibilities, they explained, would no longer allow them to associate with an organization lacking in environmental fervor.... As much as supporters of cap and tax would like to spin this as a new corporate ethic, the reality is less edifying. The lesson here is that big business political rent-seeking is alive and thriving.
"The carbon-based free lunch is over," declared Exelon CEO John Rowe, neglecting to mention that his company's free lunch is only beginning. Under the House's climate-change bill, a few utilities—primarily those that have made big bets in renewable and nuclear energy—are poised to clean up once Congress hands them carbon emission credits. The bill sets aside 35% of the free credits for utilities. Exelon and other "renewable" utilities will get a huge piece of that pie.
An internal memo produced by Bernstein Research in June described how Mr. Rowe met with investors to rejoice that the House legislation will allow Exelon to rake in additional revenue—by some estimates, up to $1.5 billion a year. Others will pay for this Exelon privilege, of course—notably, Midwestern customers of traditional coal utilities who will see their energy prices double. But hey, all's fair in love and lobbying.