Clean Energy

Published on March 5th, 2015 | by Stith A Parham

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What Just Happened In West Virginia?

WVACapitol

By Frank Andorka, Solar Advocate

When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke.

I mean, the governor of West Virginia vetoed HB 2201, the odious bill that would have effectively killed the solar industry by imposing usurious taxes on solar users in the state. So that should have been the end of it.

Only it isn’t.

Like an evil phoenix rising from the ashes of hell, the bill has passed the House and Senate again. Wait, what? How is that even possible?

Apparently, whoever typed the bill mistyped a word, which means the bill can be brought up again. Yeah, a typo,. Makes you wonder what would happen if there was something really wrong with the bill.

So back to the legislature HB 2201 has gone. It’s passed the House and Senate with the ease. And now it’s headed back to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature — or, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — another veto.

Can’t you just disable a zombie by decapitating it? Any opponents of this noxious bill thought about trying that yet?

(Zombiepedia — yeah, that’s a thing informs me that, technically, you can’t “kill” a zombie because, well, they are already dead. It’s a whole thing about what little brain function zombies have left and in what part of the brain the function is located. But I digress.)

I worry the utilities’ lobbyists will pressure Tomblin to sign the bill this time, either through an offer of huge funds for re-election, or threatening to give his opponent huge scratch instead. He’s a Democrat, so protecting the solar industry should be a natural for him. And he’s shown a willingness to do it before, by vetoing HB 2201 the first time around. 

Still and all, second bites at apples mean something could change, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t scare me. I hope Tomblin sticks to his guns on this.

What may help him is that the bill has no support among the citizens. Thousands have already protested, and even the utility involved in pushing the bill initially — American Electric Power has publicly stated that the bill is unnecessary.

I confess I’ve spent more time than I should examining the case, trying to figure out what the motivation for this latest action is. Is it simply to sate AEP’s and First Energy’s lust for lucre? Can it really have bought an entire legislature (asked and answered, counselor — of course it could)?

Let’s hope sanity prevails so the emerging solar industry in West Virginia isn’t killed in its crib. But all of you should be paying attention to this case so you can look out for it in yours.


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