Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Solar's Winning, So Dead Industries Are Attacking

Fossil-fuel-addicted utilities had their chance 40 years ago to buy up the baby solar and wind industries, toss them pocket change in resources and wait for them to grow up and conquer the world.

Instead, the utilities and their Big Oil and Big Gas pushers laughed and pointed while renewables struggled for decades to get to the point they should have - with utility backing - reached in 1980.

Now the solar tortoise has reached the finish line and the utility hares are panicking and attacking.


As Steve Benen notes, recent breakthroughs in solar panel technology, power storage, and compact design has now made solar power a threat to the energy giants and the big mega-corporations that thrive off of forcing Americans to buy coal, gas, and oil-fueled electricity.  The Koch Brothers have officially declared war on the sun, folks.
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray.
Solar power is becoming more and more viable, so that viability must be crushed.
At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.

Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive.

The power industry argues that net metering provides an unfair advantage to solar consumers, who don’t pay to maintain the power grid although they draw money from it and rely on it for backup on cloudy days. The more people produce their own electricity through solar, the fewer are left being billed for the transmission lines, substations and computer systems that make up the grid, industry officials say.
The result?  Red states are starting to pass laws that charge consumers increasingly higher fees if they use solar power, in order to price solar panels out of the market. Instead of being able to sell power back to the power company, solar panel owners would have to pay exorbinant fees instead to be off the grid, and that will destroy the industry.

The Kochs and their allies don't want us off oil and coal.  Ever.  And they will obliterate anyone who gets in their way.
 I wonder what Northern Kentucky's own teabagger congress critter thinks of  the utilities and coal companies screwing his constituents on solar power when he himself lives off the grid in an all-solar house and drives a plug-in electric car.

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