Solar power is a direct attack on the incumbent power sources that have created trillions of dollars of wealth, and that there are plenty of those who have built their fortunes upon this resource that will go to all ends to defend this wealth. This is happening in Spotsylvania, Virginia right now, and pv magazine USA is here to provide your quarterly inoculation against the nature of politics in the United States.
In August, the largest solar power plant east of the Rockies was tentatively approved by one layer of regulators in Virginia. In January, the plant took a big right hook as certain permits were suggested to be denied because of long-discarded arguments against First Solar’s cadmium telluride PV modules.
In reporting by the Energy and Policy Institute, we get to see behind the curtain, and it happens that the same crowd as usual is pulling levers.
A big part of the attacks and organization in public hearings have come from “Concerned Citizens of Spotsylvania County”. Throughout the literature on the group’s website there is language that copies the language used on other websites that are funded by the coal industry, the Koch brothers network of front groups like the Heritage Foundation, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, SolarSecrets.org, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, etc.
Those who have spoken at the meetings include climate skeptics from far out of town, a lobbyist that worked for coal producer Peabody Energy and before that spent 25 years working for ExxonMobil, advisers for the Heartland Institute, and others.
And of course, there are the right wing websites – Fox News, Daily Caller, Media Research Center, Natural Gas Now, etc.
These attacks are different in their structure and purpose from those coming from inside of the electricity utility industry. In an article focused on attacks on net metering by the NYTimes, it was said at a January 2016 board meeting of the Edison Electric Institute by Thomas R. Kuhn, the group’s president, to be careful of complacency:
Years, ago, I think a lot of people said, ‘That’s (net metering) not going to come to our area And now we see it in each and every state. E.E.I. is happy to come to any state at any time, we have two dozen states we are working on.
One technique for attacking solar power was termed “political jiu jistu”, as discovered by the Miami Herald when reporting on recent Florida legislative attacks on solar power.
To the degree that we can use a little bit of political jiu-jitsu and take what they’re kind of pinning us on and use it to our benefit either in policy, in legislation or in constitutional referendums — if that’s the direction you want to take — use the language of promoting solar, and kind of, kind of put in these protections for consumers that choose not to install rooftop.
This technique was put on display in 2018 when politicians submitted a carbon tax, under the guise of wanting to combat climate change, but then proposed using the revenue to replace the gas tax and investing in transportation infrastructure – which would essentially increase transportation CO2.