The Guardian published this yesterday as part of its ongoing investigation of ALEC:
An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as "freeriders" -- in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned.Wait -- these people are generating their own solar energy for their own use with their own solar systems, which means they need to buy little or no energy from traditional suppliers. Isn't one of the right's main arguments against the Affordable Care Act that it's immoral and unconstitutional to compel citizens to buy a product or service they say they don't need or want, in this case health insurance? And doesn't the right believe this despite the fact that everyone eventually obtains medical care from the system, with the cost being shifted to those who can pay for care whenever someone who can't pay shows up at the emergency room? Doesn't the right deny that we have a health care "grid," insisting it's all just a set of individual consumer choices? So the right believes that the solarized should be forced to pay for the energy grid even when they're not buying from it, but the ACA's individual mandate is evil?
Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals [including] penalising individual homeowners....
Further details of Alec's strategy were provided by John Eick, the legislative analyst for Alec's energy, environment and agriculture program.
... He said Alec wanted to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation -- and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.
"As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system. They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non direct generation customers are being penalised," he said.
Eick dismissed the suggestion that individuals who buy and install home-based solar panels had made such investments. "How are they going to get that electricity from their solar panel to somebody else's house?" he said. "They should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity."
I'll grant that there may be some merit to the argument that solar customers should pay to maintain a grid in which they participate, as suppliers and (perhaps during cloudy periods) as customers. I'm not unswervingly opposed to such payments, although I'd like to know more about the economics. However, if this is representative, the energy companies' idea of an appropriate payment is outrageous:
In November, Arizona became the first state to charge customers for installing solar panels. The fee, which works out to about $5 a month for the average homeowner, was far lower than that sought by the main electricity company, which was seeking to add up to $100 a month to customers' bills....Twelve hundred bucks a year? Seriously?
ALEC, as the story makes clear, just want to prevent a changeover to renewables by any means necessary, on behalf of member companies in that makes gobs of money from traditional energy sources. Obviously they're going to defend their turf. The hypocrisy is just the oily icing on the cake.