Published on January 6th, 2015 | by Acadia Otlowski1
Five States That Made Anti-Solar Efforts in 2014
As solar panel technology improves, it becomes increasingly less expensive for homeowners to install their own panels and go off the grid. That’s great news for a lot of home owners across the United States.
Or, it would be, but for the efforts of states and power companies passing anti-solar rules, which make consumers pay a fee when they attempt to even partially remove themselves from the grid. These states aren’t working totally independent of corporate industries either. The Koch brothers and large corporations such as Walmart have been focusing their efforts on preventing consumers from installing their own forms of clean energy, or at the very least charging them a hefty usage fee.
Here are some of the states that are taking steps to making those who use solar power pay for their green efforts:
“We’re not anti-solar or anti-wind or trying to slow this down, we’re just trying to keep it fair,” said Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Kathleen O’Shea to the Oklahoman newspaper. But this doesn’t seem to be the case, as the state has passed a bill to charge clean energy users an additional fee per month simply because they have installed these panels. Even more amazingly, this required the overturning of a 1977 law that expressly prohibited utilities from charging solar panel owners extra fees. Those who already installed the panels will not be forced to pay the fee, but any new solar panels, wind turbines, or other forms of green energy, an as-yet-unestablished fee is being put in place, which is causing some solar adopters to think twice.
Then there is Arizona, which has endless amounts of sunshine. The Salt River Project, the utility for the Phoenix area, has proposed a rate plan that could mean as much as a $600 rate hike a year for those who are trying to go green and save money with solar power. This includes charging consumers more for power when the sun isn’t shining than they pay when homeowners are producing more energy than they generate. The utility is also taking on customers who lease, rather than buy, their solar panels.
Additionally, the utility will be raising the flat fee that it charges to access the grid, which has led even some Republicans to take up the cause of solar power. These are just a few of the fees that are being imposed on consumers in Arizona. Click here for more details.
In New Mexico, the Public Service Company of New Mexico, aka the state’s major electricity provider, has proposed a “maintenance fee” for those who are not paying for electricity when the sun is shining. This is according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, which said that customers could be charged between $21 to $36 a month or even more, depending on the size of the system. These efforts could eliminate the financial benefits that homeowners receive for producing their own energy, and it is for this reason that those in the New Mexican solar industry are preparing to fight the fee in front of the Public Regulation Commission.
While Ohio’s policies are less damaging than some of the policies instituted by specific energy companies, the state has made efforts to weaken standards that would require its power companies to buy back energy produced by clean energy sources. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is supported by fossil-fuel-funded groups, has succeeded in pushing the implementation of the standards back two years while it is reviewed by a committee dominated by anti-solar legislatures.
Kansas is doing one better. Efforts to overturn its energy buyback standards have failed, but anti-solar groups have led the efforts to overturn policies that would require 20% of the state’s energy to come from renewable resources. This incredibly short-sighted effort not only hurts solar power, but also wind power, which had been make great gains in the Great Plains states. Kansas has the second highest capacity for wind power in the United States (after Texas), and with enough turbines Kansas could potentially produce about 75% of ALL the electricity generated in the United States
This is just the tip of the iceberg too, as Florida just recently passed its own brand of anti-solar legislation, taking the sun out of the Sunshine State. Between legislation and the efforts of the power companies and industries operated by industrialists like the Koch brothers, there are many states that are trying to prevent solar power and other clean energies from gaining popularity.
But despite this, solar panels are getting less expensiveand will continue to grow in popularity despite efforts to the contrary. The ball has already been set rolling, and while anti-solar regulations may slow it down, we’ve already gone well past the tipping point.
Image: Solar panels vis Shutterstock