GOP Alleges Energy Company Giveaways in Stimulus

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee inserted a provision into the $825 economic stimulus package last week that Republicans allege could prove a boon to energy companies whose profit margins are slashed by consumers' conservation.

A provision inserted during the committee's markup of the package would "decouple" electric rates, or lessen the extent to which their rates are directly related to consumption, over the objections of the committee's Republican members.

The amendment was first reported on the new conservative blog NewMajority.com, founded by pundit David Frum.

The move would eliminate consumers' incentives to reduce energy use because their rates would remain the same, the committee's Republicans argued.

Proponents of decoupling argue that because utilities companies' costs are fixed and do not decrease with falling consumption, the companies lack an incentive to promote energy efficiency, which decoupling would help eliminate.

Democrats shot down a Republican amendment to strip the decoupling provision in a 33-20, party-line vote last week.

A spokesperson for the committee's Democrats could not immediately be reached.