Many utilities, often feeling under siege from a fast-growing solar industry, are trying to slow its growth through front groups and coordinated attacks. Yesterday, the Environment America Research & Policy Center released a report that offers a blueprint on how the solar industry can fight back.
The report, Blocking the Sun, provides a list of 17 fossil-fuel backed groups and electric utilities that are launching aggressive campaigns to slow solar’s growth in 12 states. As a countermeasure, Environment America launched a “Stand Up for Solar” campaign to defend solar policies.
“Pollution-free solar energy represents America’s most abundant energy resource,” said Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program Coordinator with Environment America. “For our climate and our environment, we can’t allow special interests to pull the plug on solar power.”
According to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s most recent 50 States of Solar Policy Report, there were 117 separate actions that changed or attempted to change various policies affecting the solar industry by mid-2016.
Blocking the Sun outlines the enormous amount of money oil billionaires Charles and David Koch have provided to fund their noxious anti-solar campaign. To keep the sunshine from disinfecting their efforts, the Kochs funnel their millions of dollars through a network of opaque non-profits.
At least some of their money has reached the prominent (and odious) conservative think-tank American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which coordinates nationwide legislative campaigns on various issues by providing legislators with boilerplate legislation against renewable energy.
Taking that legislation, legislators can launch anti-renewable energy campaigns with little or no additional work at all for them. The legislation is often crafted by fossil-fuel-tied experts on the “Board of Scholars” and state representatives that are on their board of directors.
Often with ALEC’s guidance, utilities in at least eight states have launched extensive campaigns to dismantle policies that have helped solar become the fastest-growing energy source in the United States.
Changes to net-metering are the second-most-common action taken by the states, with efforts to alter significantly or eliminate entirely the credit rates they have to pay to solar customers who export solar electricity to the grid.
Also popular are demand charges specifically targeting solar customers. Demand charges are often justified with the canard (disproven by numerous state studies) that solar customers don’t pay their fair share for grid upkeep and maintenance.
“Solar has the chance to become a leading technology,” said Rachel Cross of Frontier Group, report co-author. “It’s a solution for a world that needs to quit burning carbon. Allowing electric companies and fossil-fuel interests to stand in the way of that kind of progress defies common sense.”
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