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Now That Solar Capacity Is Soaring—Koch Brothers Demand Tax on the Sun

And damn if Oklahoma didn't just cave to the Kochs' demands.
 
 
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U.S. Solar electric capacity has expanded explosively - 418% - from  2326 megawatts in 2010 to 12,057 MW in February 2014, an increase of 9,731 MW reports the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Solar has moved rapidly from a niche market to 1.13% of total U.S. capacity.  To stop the rapid growth of solar, which is threatening to break Americans from the death grip of fossil fuels, the Koch Brothers are demanding to tax the sun.
U.S. Solar electric generation capacity growth from 2010 to 2014.
U.S installed solar capacity shot up over 400% in the last 4 years.

The rapid decline in the cost of solar panels and state and federal incentives have spurred investment in solar power at all scales from individuals to small businesses to large utilities. Net metering, which allows users to reverse their power meter when they produce more power than they consume, has incentivized rooftop solar. Moreover, states from Hawaii to South Carolina have developed programs to make the installation costs affordable to average consumers. Forbes reported in July 2013 on how  Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii's Democrats made solar accessible to renters. This is exactly the kind of legislation I advocated a decade earlier when I ran for a position on the board of Kauai's electric power co-op. It's great to see seeds planted finally coming up and bearing fruit.

Senate Bill 1087, which Gov. Abercrombie signed on June 27, makes solar photovoltaic systems, as well as solar thermal water heaters and big-ticket energy efficiency upgrades, available to all these underserved customers by eliminating the thorny issue of the upfront costs.

On-bill financing enables residential or commercial property owners or renters to avoid the initial out-of-pocket expense to install energy improvements. Upgrades are instead financed with loans paid back via a line item on the customer’s monthly utility bill. If the property is sold or transferred, the loan stays with the meter and would be taken over by the new property owner or tenant.

But, this great progress in bringing clean energy to the individual threatens monopolists from the Koch brothers to electric utilities. The Koch's AFP have conspired with utilities to write legislation to force individuals to pay a tax to the utility companies for accessing the grid. The Koch Brother's AFP has demanded laws to tax the sun.

And damn if Oklahoma didn't just cave to the Kochs' demands.

Anyone living in Oklahoma planning to power their home using a rooftop solar panel will soon be charged a fee for the right to do that while still being connected to the local power grid.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the “solar surcharge” bill into law on Monday, permitting utilities to charge an extra fee to any customer using distributed power generation, such as rooftop solar or a small wind turbine.

The Kochs have been pushing, through AFP ads, the dishonest meme that rooftop solar owners aren't carrying their fare share of utility system costs. The dishonesty lies in the failure to mention how rooftop solar and distributed power helps reduce the demand for peak power in mid-summer allowing power producers to avoid costs for building new power plants to meet peak demand. Moreover, power distributors not in the generation business are able to avoid paying for the most expensive peak power. But that's not what the utilities are telling the politicians and public. They are lobbying that solar power generators are freeloaders.

“Right now, a distributed generation customer is really paying less for the maintenance of the infrastructure than our other customers,” despite the up-front costs of installing solar panels on a roof, said Kathleen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric, or OGE, one of the state’s largest utilities.

Of OGE’s 800,000 customers, between 200 and 400 of them use rooftop solar or wind, she said.

 
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