Clean Power

Published on May 20th, 2014 | by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC)


Edison Electric Institute Members Lobbying For Solar Taxes

May 20th, 2014 by  

taxesNational utility trade association Edison Electric Institute (EEI) has admitted that its members are pushing for solar taxes. Utilities across the country are lobbying for Value of Solar Tariffs (VOSTs), which require solar homeowners to sell the solar power they generate to the utility. That sale triggers substantial taxation for the homeowners. When discussing whether VOSTs are a sale, which results in hidden taxes, EEI’s own General Counsel Edward Comer stated, “If [the utility is] required to purchase the power, I think legally there’s a sale.”

Comer’s admission occurred at an Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) solar workshop last week. VOSTs have become popular with utilities trying to stop rooftop solar. The tariffs create hidden taxes for solar homeowners, as explained in a memo from top national law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Comer also agreed that homeowners face these taxes even if the utility provides payments as a “credit” to the customer (this accounting sleight of hand does not make the tax issue magically disappear). Said Corner: “I don’t think that there’s really a distinction whether a utility pays [a VOST] through a credit or a payment.”

“Utilities from Arizona, to California, to New York who are lobbying for VOSTs, have some serious explaining to do now that EEI’s own general counsel agrees with TASC about the severe tax consequences of these policies” said TASC President Bryan Miller. “Regulators can now see VOSTs for what they are – hidden taxes that hurt unsuspecting homeowners.”

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013 / CC BY-SA

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About the Author

advocates for maintaining successful distributed solar energy policies, such as retail net metering, throughout the United States. Retail net metering (NEM) provides fair credit to residents, businesses, churches, schools, and other public agencies when their solar systems export excess energy to the grid. The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) was formed on the belief that anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power, and realize the financial benefits therein. The rooftop solar market has been largely driven by Americans’ desire to assert control over their electric bills, a trend that should be encouraged.

  • jimmy jax

    Taxing solar is good.

  • LookingForward

    Isn’t taxes allways paid (indirectly) by the user of a product not the producer?
    Here in Holland we pay 0,23 Euro/KW, of which about 7/8 cents is production, 7/8 cents is administrative/grid costs and the rest is taxes. If I had solar and would produce to much (net/year by way) I will get 7/8 cents for it for the production, so I don’t have to pay taxes, administrative and grid costs by not getting the full price per KW. Neither do other producers for there producting like our utillities. This I think is the fairest way possible for all parties concerned.
    Why isn’t this also in the US? Is net-metering that much different? Why would uttilities b*tch about buying energy which they can sell at a profit?

  • guest

    TASC has claimed you have to sell 100% of your production for the VOST but Karl Rabago, the architect of Austin’s VOST, has pointed out this is false.

    TASC is arguing against a made up worst case version of the VOST…. The VOST they’re arguing against is a version they’re making up out of air… They’ve lawyered up and they’re being giant lying aholes.

    Establishing fair value for a product is not communism or fake or bad… It’s common capitalistic sense.

    TASC stands for The Alliance for Solar Choice… This organization supposedly want’s choice… Really what they want is for their parent to make money.

  • Vensonata

    Fine. Off grid becomes ever more appealing. There are many places that charge a $20 monthly fee just for the privlege of remaining connected to the grid even if you used only 100 kwh per month. That dis incentivizes being frugal with electricity. Off grid electricity can be produced through pv and battery at about 21cents kwh. With further decline in inverter and battery costs apparently on the way, off grid becomes a viable option for perhaps 25% of home owners. That is a big club to hold over utilities heads.

    • Batteries aren’t very competitive with the grid right now. Will clearly be more competitive down the road. But being prepared for that would require foresight. 😀

      • driveby

        maybe not in the US of A, but elsewhere on that globe they’re further ahead and do the pioneering.. just sit back and watch what will happen.

        • jimmy jax

          Taxing grid solar power is good.

      • Billy

        Paid the tax and shut-up, before they remove solar panels from the grid, we all know that grid solar power is dirty power.

  • Ronald Brakels

    But even more importantly, to secure America’s economic future, it is vital that the Domestic Vegetable Production Purchase law be passed which will require all people with home vegetable gardens to sell all the vegetables they grow to supermarkets and then purchase back whatever portion they desire for their own consumption. This is vital to prevent those who grow their own food from free riding on supermarket food distribution systems. And it’s also vital to stop home vegetable gardeners from not paying their fair share of tax. After all, it’s not conceivable that these people would take the money they save by growing their own vegetables and go and spend it on something that is taxable or alternatively increase America’s wealth by investing it.

    • Haha, Ronald! Again, I think it’s high time you ran for president of the United States. If Obama could get elected as a Muslim Kenyan, I’m pretty sure we could get you into office. 😀

      • Ronald Brakels

        Oh look! I have a genuine, not at all forged document signed by Queen Elizabeth herself and Richard Nixon itself, declaring she handed over Wonwoomba General Hospital to the United States in return for helping cover up repiloid alien incursions, which don’t exist, officially making the maternity ward part of the United States of America. I think I’d better start practicing my Presidential acceptance speach. I was going to just go with pointing my fingers at the crowd and crying, “Sucked in!” but I’m thinking that perhaps I should go for something a little more extensive on such a momentous historical occasion. Maybe add in the word “fools” at the end. Oh, and I’m definitely finding a position in my cabinet for Mister T. Or perhaps I’ll just balance the budget by declaring him America’s new gold reserve. I haven’t decided yet.

    • Wilson

      Mark was right Tax solar power, that why you delete him, Go Mark! lobbying hard in the US.

    • Bill

      I agree the more tax placed on grid solar power the cheaper the cost generation it will become. Also it lower demand on solar energy GHG.

  • Jim Smith

    First rule of capitalism…buy politicians to pass laws to protect your business position rather than compete. And watch the low IQ voters keep electing traitors who will gladly be bought.

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