Clean Power

Published on January 9th, 2015 | by Important Media Cross-Post

21

These Five States Took Anti-Solar Action in 2014

January 9th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Red, Green, and Blue.
By Acadia Otlowski

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.

shutterstock_239085436Or, 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:

Oklahoma

“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.

Arizona

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.

New Mexico

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.

Ohio

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

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 expensive and 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.

Reprinted with permission. Image: Solar panels via Shutterstock





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  • Uncle B

    Science and Technology have overcome American “sunk money” and it is only a matter of time before renewables take over if not completely, then nearly so.

    • Larmion

      Sure, but not nearly fast enough to make a meaningful dent in climate change at current trends.

  • Epicurus

    The fossil fuel industry and its Republican toadies have convinced the talk radio crowd that renewables are bad (because they are too expensive, impractical, etc.), and they elect the evil bathturds who enact these laws. I told one of these cretins that Austin Power just signed a 25 year PPA with a utility scale solar plant for $.05/kWh, and he couldn’t believe it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Show him a couple of pictures. There are a lot of long term PPAs for solar at the 5 cent level. And some (most/all?) are not indexed for inflation which means that 20, 25 years from now the utilities will still be paying 5c with deflated money,

      And show him wind at about 2.5 cents per kWh.

      Then, when he tries to wave it all away because of subsidies, inform him that wind and solar get a 2.3 cent/kWh for their first ten years of production. On a 20 year PPA that makes 5 cents into 6.2c price and 2.5 cents into 3.7c.

      BTW, those are 2013 numbers for wind. 2014 will be lower. We’ve heard of one wind PPA signed for 1.5 c/kWh.

      Prices have fallen so rapidly that most people have yet to hear how inexpensive solar and wind have become.

      • Epicurus

        He says that because wind and solar are intermittent, we still have to have traditional plants fired up to maintain the baseload and they can’t be turned off and on depending on the wind and the sunshine.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Remind him that there are many days during which the Sun comes up very early in the day and then goes down in the late afternoon. We see this pattern happening over and over.

          Many of those days are cloud free. There’s no reason to keep a coal plant spinning when you’ve got a day full of sunshine.

          And there are places where the wind blows day after day after day.

          And the great thing is those sunny/windy times are very predictable hours in advance. You can look at the local radar and see if there are clouds approaching. You can look at wind patterns around your wind farm and see if the wind is going to stay the same, get stronger, or die down.

          Grids are finding that one doesn’t need to keep reserve spinning to cover solar and wind. Just get the dispatchable generation ready to go during the last few minutes of sunshine/wind.

          Gas turbines and hydro are the dispatchable generators that fill in around solar and wind. Storage is starting to take some market away from gas The role of storage will grow. Coal fills in at a lower level. We see coal plants closed down for weeks/months during times when demand in lower and wind up (spring).

          Where we need spinning reserve is for nuclear and coal. Those plants can, and do, go offline with no prior warning. A thermal plant outage is not predictable except for scheduled maintenance, Quite frequently coal and nuclear plants “break”. One minute they are pumping out the power and the next minute they’ve disappeared from the grid.

          Your friend has it pretty much backwards. Wind and solar are lessening our need for spinning reserve.

          • Epicurus

            All he and his ilk know is what they hear from the right wing media, and they are good at making up lies that sound credible to the uninformed.

            There should be a website that combats each lie and half-truth about renewable energy, just as skepticalscience.com does for the lies and half-truths about climate change.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes. This is something that has been discussed but no one has made the effort to set up a clean energy myth-busting site as far as I know.

          • Epicurus

            It’s really important. I wish someone would step up.

  • RobMF

    Any politician that promotes anti-solar policies and reduces individual Americans’ energy security and independence should be voted out of office. This is not a red blue issue, this is an American people’s best interests issue. Anyone against that is unAmerican.

  • Patrick Linsley

    Forgot Wisconsin too.

  • Mickey Askins

    Republicans, impeding progress since Ronald Reagan made it popular. Term limits will get rid of these neanderthals.

  • Chris

    P.O.S. States with (Paid for), old-Fart, Oil-Lovin’ Republicans. still wanna live in the 19th century. I say we put up a fence!

  • Will E

    Solar and Wind industry have become big time industries.
    In short time this industries get more Power and jobs and dollar profits that will mitigate the old steam machine techniques and will take over no matter what.
    It is a world wide change in Power production. By the way
    where is Oklahoma, I only know it of the comic book lucky luke.

    • Kevin McKinney
    • pyrophilia

      I predict there might be economic migrations to “Where the jobs” are because of the new clean energy combined with states doing stupid shit like Oklahoma facing Exodus’s

      • Larmion

        Look at US states with the fastest population growth and then look at their level of rooftop solar penetration. You’ll find no correlation. Electricity generation, solar or otherwise, doesn’t generate that many permanent jobs.

        Cheap electricity might attract energy-intensive firms like manufacturers of petrochemicals and light metals, but that isn’t linked to rooftop solar penetration either.

        In fact, the cheapest electricity doesn’t come from rooftop PV at all. It now comes from large scale wind, with large solar and natural gas coming in distant second. And Oklahoma isn’t doing too badly in exploiting its (excellent!) wind resources.

        But quite apart from cost, the volume of rooftop PV is also too small to influence total electricity costs in a meaningful way.

  • Donna Hansen Love

    I live in Oklahoma where we can not even get decent solar companies to come into the state because of these stupid laws. But I have lots of very techie friends who are installing their own systems and have cool equipment that blocks the utility company from even knowing they are using solar when the sunshines.
    As far as wind power, new fields are popping up everyday with the power being sold to neighboring states. Oil field workers are switching to become wind farm workers..

    • JamesWimberley

      In Spain too,you can buy kits with “zero injection” inverters that isolate your system effectively from the grid without your having to go offgrid entirely. Of course, it only pays if your self-consumption is high.

    • RobMF

      The energy rebellion has begun. Long live the rebellion!

      • Centerfire

        Bring the numbers. What does it cost to implement solar cells to run your house WITHOUT a subsidy. Solar makes no power at night, how are you going to store that power? How much do the batteries cost? You have no numbers, and you cannot support your position without them. Bring the numbers.

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