Beacon Hill Institute
The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) is a right-wing think tank housed at Suffolk University in Boston until 2015. It was founded in 1991 by businessman and Republican politician Ray Shamie. BHI describes itself as being "grounded in the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets."
BHI was to sever ties with Suffolk University in 2016, BHI's director and a spokesperson for Suffolk University announced in December 2015.
Renewable energy studies
In December 2013 the Guardian reported that the Beacon Hill Institute had sought about $40,000 in funding to carry out an economic analysis to discredit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, stating in its proposal that "Success will take the form of media recognition, dissemination to stakeholders, and legislative activity that will pare back or repeal RGGI." The proposal was presented for consideration to the Searle Freedom Trust by the State Policy Network. Host university Suffolk said the Institute's grant proposal did not go through the university's approval process and violated the tenets of scientific research. The proposal was not funded.
In September 2012, Maine Gov. Paul LePage cited a report that said Maine's renewable energy mandate would cost electricity ratepayers $145 million and nearly 1,000 jobs by 2017. The study was done by Beacon Hill. The Washington Post reported that the study has been used to bolster model legislation co-written by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and The Heartland Institute.
The Beacon Hill Institute's study was republished by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group that used the study's findings to estimate the impact in Maine. The two groups belong to the State Policy Network, the umbrella group for free-market organizations that attempt to influence policy-making in state legislatures. The State Policy Network has received funding from the Koch brothers. The Checks and Balances Project of Washington DC said the Beacon Hill Institute's report has been pushed in 11 other states by groups belonging to the State Policy Network.
LePage's spokesperson Adrienne Bennett said the administration was unaware of the Beacon Hill Institute's backing from fossil fuel interests, and that "The real issue isn't who funded the study. It's that renewable energy and wind energy is more expensive than other sources." In 2011, LePage led an effort to freeze Maine's law that requires power companies to get a portion of their electricity from renewable sources.
In August 2011, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) released a study by Beacon Hill Institute of the plans by the State of New Jersey to develop 1,100 megawatts of wind capacity off its coastline, concluding that the wind farm "will produce net economic costs, raise electricity prices, and dampen economic activity.” The study does not discuss the estimated 5,000 construction and maintenance jobs predicted by a range of other studies, and discounts wind power’s benefit in reducing New Jersey’s import of electricity from other states.
In a 2011 op-ed, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist cited a study by BHI on North Carolina's renewable energy standards (RES), stating that "The RES in North Carolina, one of 2012’s key battleground states, is projected to reduce real disposable income by $56.8 million and likely be responsible for the loss of 3,592 jobs by 2021." Norquist said that "legislators in states around the country are now working with Americans for Tax Reform to repeal renewable energy mandates in 2012. The iron is hottest to strike in states where Republicans recently took control of both the Legislature and the governorship — including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania."
BHI's numbers on the impact of state RESs on electricity prices have been disputed by Climate Progress, who say "the data shows that the presence of a state-level renewable energy standard has a virtually zero statistically-significant impact on how much electric rates changed from 2000 to 2010."
In September 2011, Ohio State Sen. Kris Jordan introduced a bill (SB216) that would repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standards, citing a American Tradition Institute and Beacon Hill Institute study arguing that Ohio residents would pay $8.63 billion more for electricity between 2016 and 2025 because of the 12.5% requirement.
The Beacon Hill Institute collaborated with the free market think tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute on a report critiquing the recommendations from a 2007 Wisconsin clean energy task force, including the state's renewable portfolio standards (RPS).
- David G. Tuerck, Executive Director
Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University
8 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Articles and resources
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- GradingTheStates.org provides critical analysis of the Beacon Hill Institute’s State Competitiveness Report and other "business rankings." Grading the States is a project of the Iowa Policy Project, overseen by economist Peter Fisher, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa.
- Beacon Hill Institute, "Mission and Vision", Beacon Hill Institute website, accessed May 2009.
- Laura Krantz, "Suffolk University cuts ties with conservative research group," Boston Globe, December 1, 2015.
- Suzanne Goldberg, "Free-market research group's climate proposal denounced by host university," Guardian, Dec 5, 2013.
- By Steve Mistler, "Anti-renewable-energy report cited by LePage was funded by fossil fuel interests," Morning Sentinel, Nov. 26, 2012.
- "Koch Brothers Fund Bogus Study Bashing Offshore Wind in New Jersey" Climate Progress, Aug. 17, 2011.
- Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason, "Rethink renewable energy mandates" Politico, December 18, 2011.
- Stephen Lacey, "Grover Norquist Spreads Lies About Renewable Energy Standards" Climate Progress, Dec. 19, 2011.
- John Monaghan, "Research & Commentary: Ohio Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard" Heartland Institute, January 31, 2012.
- Media Transparency.org's listing for the Beacon Hill Institute. Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
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