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Fri Oct 30, 2015, 09:28 AM

The War on Solar

The War on Solar
October 26, 2015
By Sara Gutterman, Co-founder & CEO, Green Builder Media

Fossil fuel interests are waging a shady war on solar through backroom transactions and bootleg deals. How long will they be able to rig the game? Eighty-four percent of US voters are in favor of “taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy”, but major fossil fuel interests don’t care as long as their profits are at stake.

A recent report by the Environment America exposed 12 special interest groups that are waging aggressive anti-solar campaigns in states across the country to quell the exponential growth that the solar industry has recently been experiencing.

....The report highlights specific organizations that have worked hard to hinder the proliferation of solar in the US, including:

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the trade group that represents US investor-owned electric utilities, launched the current wave of anti-solar advocacy with a 2012 conference warning utilities of the challenges solar energy posed to their traditional profit centers. Since then, EEI has worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on model legislation to repeal state renewable electricity standards and ran an anti-solar public relations campaign in Arizona.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provides utility and fossil fuel interests with access to state legislatures, and its anti-net metering policy resolution has inspired legislation in states like Washington and Utah.

The Koch brothers have provided funding to the national fight against solar by funneling tens of millions of dollars through a network of opaque nonprofits. One Koch front group, 60 Plus, ran a TV and internet anti-net metering campaign in Arizona. The Koch-funded campaign organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP) carries out anti-solar energy organizing efforts. In Florida and Georgia, AFP has run misinformation campaigns against net metering and other solar policies.

The Heartland Institute, a think tank with backing from the fossil fuel industry, helped draft the language for ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act,” and has spread misleading information about the impacts of solar energy.

The Consumer Energy Alliance is a Houston-based front group for the fossil fuel industry, representing fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell Oil. In Wisconsin in 2013, CEA submitted 2,500 dubious signatures in support of a utility rate case to increase costs for solar customers.

As part of its campaign to discourage rooftop solar power, Arizona Public Service, the biggest utility in Arizona, has funneled money through nonprofit groups in order to fund anti-net metering advertisements and has been accused of improperly cultivating influence with the state commission that regulates utilities.

Duke Energy, the largest utility in the US, has positioned itself through investments in utility-scale solar plants to be seen as a champion of solar energy – all while spending millions on campaign contributions to keep anti-solar politicians in office in Florida and lobbying against third party solar agreements in North Carolina.

American Electric Power (AEP) has backed anti-solar campaigns in states including Ohio and West Virginia. In West Virginia, AEP successfully lobbied for a bill to limit the net metering cap to 3 percent of utility peak demand.

In Utah and Nevada, subsidiaries of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy are running active campaigns to halt the growth of solar power. In Nevada, subsidiary NV Energy has lobbied to prevent the raising of Nevada’s net metering cap. With Nevada solar power on track to reach the cap limit in early 2016, a stagnant cap could damage the state solar power industry.

The Salt River Project, a public utility in Arizona, passed perhaps the most damaging anti-solar provision in the country: a demand charge for solar customers that will increase utility bills by an average of $50 per month, which has all but killed the growth of rooftop solar in the utility’s territory. The passage of the fee was based in part on an internal SRP analysis that was criticized for failing to account for solar energy’s value to the grid and to the environment.

In Ohio, FirstEnergy led the fight to make Ohio the first state in the country to freeze its renewable energy standard – resulting in annual private investment in Ohio solar energy dropping by more than $100 million. FirstEnergy has also sustained a series of regulatory attacks against Ohio net metering policy.

We Energies, Wisconsin’s largest utility, has submitted a nearly continuous stream of proposals to the Wisconsin Public Services Commission (PSC) to halt the growth of solar, including proposals to limit net metering and to impose surcharges on solar owners.

.....Rather than innovating new business models through which they can capitalize on the inevitable future of renewable energy and leverage a smart grid that enables distributed sources of energy, these entities are grasping onto obsolete paradigms that ultimately do each and every one of us a disservice.......




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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply The War on Solar (Original post)
RiverLover Oct 2015 OP
bananas Oct 2015 #1
Duppers Oct 2015 #2
NNadir Oct 2015 #3
Finishline42 Nov 2015 #4
SoLeftIAmRight Nov 2015 #5
OKIsItJustMe Nov 2015 #6
Finishline42 Nov 2015 #7
OKIsItJustMe Nov 2015 #8
OKIsItJustMe Nov 2015 #9

Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2015, 10:30 PM

2. All these masters of the universe were applauding Reagan

when he had Jimmy Carter's solar panels yanked off the White House.

They are damaging everyone's future.

Thank you for this excellent list of climate villains, RiverLover.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2015, 10:43 PM

3. The solar industry blames everyone but itself for its grotesque, toxic, and expensive failure.

It soaked up nearly a trillion dollars in the last decade and doesn't produce even two of the 560 exajoules that humanity consumes each year.

In fact, if you look at it, the solar industry is nothing more than a fig leaf for the gas industry. Without gas, without fracking, the solar industry would die its deserved death in a New York minute.

Yet it whines and whines and whines and whines, demands more and more money, this on a planet where 2 billion people lack basic sanitation and clean water.

The solar industry is a failure. It's not clean. It's not sustainable.

No one, absolutely no one, except maybe future generations who will have to live with all the electronic waste it leaves behind, should be afraid of it, because it doesn't produce. Period.

Have a great weekend.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 07:36 AM

4. Every solar panel installed reduces the need to burn fossil fuels for over 50 yrs

So if somebody installs a solar PV system on their home and reduces by say 2/3 of what they would normally use, how much coal or natgas doesn't have to be burned in a year? How about in 50 years?

Your point about electronic waste is ridiculous - those panels that Reagan removed are in S America still producing. BTW, have you every stopped to count how much electronic waste is produced each year in the TV industry? How about the computer industry?

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Response to Finishline42 (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 12:15 PM

5. Some people have an agenda


I have found it a waste of time pointing out facts to them.

Keep up the good fight

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Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 1, 2015, 11:03 PM

6. Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

[font face=Serif][font size=5]Renewables and Carbon Dioxide Emissions[/font]

[font size=4]Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables[/font]

[font size=3]EIA expects total renewables used in the electric power sector to decrease by 2.7% in 2015. Conventional hydropower generation is forecast to decrease by 9.7%, and nonhydropower renewable power generation is forecast to increase by 4.0%. The 2015 decrease in hydropower generation reflects the effects of the California drought. Forecast generation from hydropower in the electric power sector increases by 7.3% in 2016.

EIA expects continued growth in utility-scale solar power generation, which is projected to average 89 gigawatthours per day (GWh/d) in 2016. Because the growth is from a small base, utility-scale solar power averages 0.8% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016. Although solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations (rooftop panels), EIA expects utility-scale solar capacity will increase by more than 100% (11 GW) between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with 4.4 GW of new capacity being built in California. Other leading states in utility-scale solar capacity include North Carolina and Nevada, which, combined with California, account for almost 70% of the projected utility-scale capacity additions for 2015 and 2016.

Wind capacity, which starts from a significantly larger installed capacity base than solar, grew by 8% in 2014, and is forecast to increase by 13% annually in both 2015 and 2016.


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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 09:41 AM

7. How does the EIA come to their number for solar?

How does the EIA come to their number for solar? I would expect utility scale solar would probably be reported by utility companies. But what about residential solar? They have to be guessing - they might not even have good data on how much has been installed. Utilities would have data on what was sent back but do they have data on what was used?

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Response to Finishline42 (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 10:30 AM

8. Well, grid-connected solar, they could likely get from utilities

If your home system is grid-connected, it is metered.

FWIW: Check out this growth curve. (Cluttered with my arrows.)


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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 02:10 PM

9. Yup, sure enough

[font face=Serif][font size=5]Residential solar PV capacity surpasses commercial solar PV capacity in 2014[/font]

[font size=3]This article uses net metering capacity data from Form EIA-826 "Monthly Electric Utility Sales and Revenue Report with State Distributions," which collects data on installed PV solar capacity as reported by electric utilities as facilities that participate in their net metering programs. The respondents of this survey represent a sample of electric utilities in the US and therefore this data underestimates the total amount of net metered capacity.

For the first time, residential photovoltaic (PV) capacity has surpassed commercial PV capacity. According to preliminary EIA data, in the third quarter of 2014, residential PV capacity exceeded commercial PV capacity by 5.7%. This gap widened to 11.4% by the fourth quarter of 2014.

[font size=1]Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Electric Utility Sales and Revenue Report with State Distributions (Form EIA-826)[/font]


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