How Utilities Are Trying to Slow Down Rooftop Solar

GR: Utility companies don’t want you to save money by adopting solar power. Utilities that should earn their public status by working for the common good, often behave just like any for-profit corporation. Their resistance to distributed solar power is a most egregious example. In my home state, Arizona, the utility lobby convinced the state legislature to lower the credit solar customers receive for the excess energy they generate with rooftop solar.

However, there has been backlash by utility customers who recognize the need to move away from conventional power. In June, Nevada citizens in reaction to NV Energy’s effort to limit rooftop solar, voted for a bill to restore utility payments for excess energy. Moreover, as the price of storage has fallen along with the cost of solar panels, it is becoming affordable for private citizens to completely disconnect from their utility company networks. There’s still a big investment. For those of us that don’t have the extra cash, there are national programs available that let us switch to renewable energy with no upfront cost.

Here, David Pomerantz reviews a New York Times report on the effort by utility lobbyists to block rooftop solar power.

“The New York Times reported earlier this month about how utilities around the country, and their trade group the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), have worked to weaken rooftop solar policies in an attempt to stave off the threat to their business model.

“The article featured some of Energy and Policy Institute’s reporting, including our expose of Brian McCormack, former EEI executive and current Chief of Staff to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, for his role in attacking rooftop solar while at EEI, as well as our uncovering of Florida utilities’ deceptive anti-solar ballot initiative in that state last year.

“Some important aspects of the story of utilities’ efforts did not make it into the Times coverage though:

Upset About EEI? There’s a Good Chance You’re Funding Them

“The Times exposed the central role played by the Edison Electric Institute in driving the utility industry’s anti-rooftop solar strategy:

“At a January 2016 board meeting of the Edison Institute, attended by chief executives of the country’s largest utilities, Thomas R. Kuhn, the group’s president, counseled against complacency.

“Years, ago, I think a lot of people said, ‘That’s not going to come to our area,'” he said, according to a recording of his remarks made available by a participant. “And now we see it in each and every state,” he said. “EEI is happy to come to any state at any time,” he added. “We have two dozen states we are working on.”

“If you’re angry about EEI, here’s some bad news for you: there’s a high chance that you’re paying the salaries of the trade association’s executives.

“Our report Paying for Politics detailed how the nation’s investor-owned electric utility customers are subsidizing EEI via their bills every month. Investor-owned utilities embed their EEI membership dues into rates, forcing their customers to pay for a policy agenda constructed primarily for the benefit of utilities’ shareholders, not their customers. Since most customers have no choice about their utility, there’s not much they can do about it.

Despite Efforts, Utilities Cannot Stop Distributed Solar Energy

“And here’s some better news:” –David Pomerantz, Energy and Policy Institute (Continue reading: How Utilities Are Trying to Slow Down Rooftop Solar).

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