States Rolling Back Solar Incentives As the Planet Heats Up

As the Koch brothers wage war on solar power, is it time to strip the profit out of the utility business once and for all?

As the New York Times reports, the slight decline in home solar installations over the past year is in large part due to a wave of legislation aimed at crushing net metering.

Net-metering allows people with solar panels on their home to sell the extra power those panels generate back to the grid in exchange for credit.

Most of the anti-net metering laws currently making their way through state houses across the country are based on model legislation crafted by ALEC - the right wing group responsible for stand your ground laws, right to work for less laws, and voter suppression ID laws.

Isn't this a perfect example of why we need to decentralize and localize utility companies - and ban monopoly utilities from lobbying and other political activity?


deepspace's picture
deepspace 7 years 2 weeks ago

Yesterday, Legend (#15) explained the predatory practices of his area's utility company and provided an excellent link about how storage batteries can foster independence from the centralized grid structure, to which households and businesses are slaved, and further weaken the grip of the big utility monopolies. Here it is again:

Legend 7 years 2 weeks ago

I wanted to comment on Thoms second hour yesterday. It was about solar power and how the utilities are discouraging it. I am on a large COOP for electricity. It changed how it charges for electricity if you install solar, windpower or a new service. Now electricity is charged based on your peak demand during the month. It does not matter what your usage is, it is based on your peak deman during the month. So if you have solar your peak demand will be at night and thus it ruins any payback from the panels. There is one article that feels the utilites will only speed up the use of batteries and thus lower the cost of back up battery systems. Solar panels with a bank of batteries and a backup generator for rare emergencies could take you off of the grid. Solar is becoming the power of choice. Kauai recently went solar with battery banks at night. Tucson recently purchased low bid 20 MW and the winner was solar with batteries. Everyday there are advancements in renewables. And still the Republicans resist it.

As far as utilities go, it is a mess. You have a thousand electric companies producing and selling electricity into an old grid that is regulated (except in TX) by FERC. Currently 2 nuclear reactors in GA and 2 in SC are being built by companies that really are not capable of such large projects. The grid is antiquated and should be upgraded to High voltage DC which can move electricity large distances with minimal line loss. We have a large country with large resources of wind in the midwest and know way to get it back east economically. CA is building wind power in Wyoming and will lose a lot getting it to CA without DC lines. I have worked in Brazil where most of the hydro electricity is in the far west and the cities are in the far east. They have DC transmission. Lots of it in Europe also. China has a large line under construction. As far as I know we have none.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 7 years 2 weeks ago

Haha ... a double whammy.

TxPeon's picture
TxPeon 7 years 2 weeks ago

The very definition of Conservatism, states, afraid of the future, afraid of change, and feel most comfortable in the past. Note:this I'd not a direct quote from any dictionary. Seems a couple of oil companies see, live, change for the future.

The population of the earth may double in the near future, we will choke to death by the Trump model. And AI, will wipe out most jobs everywhere. Do we need to play this game, with bigger issue in site? Hell no !

Old power stations and models need to go....bye bye, yes? Upgrade our infrastructure now please?

tim1234 7 years 2 weeks ago

The hypoocrisy of the Republican talking point "the government should not pick winnes and losers" is perfectly illustrated by this nefarious use of the government by the power companies.

johnbest's picture
johnbest 7 years 2 weeks ago

The Koch Brothers, and all members of ALEC and all the other PAC's that the Kochs support must be declared enemy subversive organizations. Furthermore, all members and all republicans who are involved with these groups and the Koch Brothers need to be charged with racketeering, tried and hanged. I am sick of their utter disregard for decent Americans...'s picture
randolphgarriso... 7 years 2 weeks ago

naturally felt there is a good reason I am opposed to the large grid utilities. I considered them to be very vulnerable to hacking and outside control at inopportune times. Their p[rice manipulation always hurts the people. A single or small network of individuals could be more reliable and economical. The right combination of generator and storage is crucial.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 7 years 2 weeks ago

Thom, Do your individual part: Think grassroots and a small effort YOU CAN DO.

If they charge people to put electricity back into the grid. Keep it for yourself. Forget about them.

I can't blame "the grid" to charge you. The power grid is becoming more extremely complicated and intelligent, because electricity is brought in from further and further places and more and more sources. They don't need you complicating more sources..

Use the power you make to assist your house in running lights, fans, space heaters, computers, etc.. Small air conditioners CAN limit the use of large central air conditioning units that need the grid. Forget big battery storage, you will NEVER get your money back with current technology. Run what you can with what you've got - it adds up! AND, you are doing your part for the planet-regardless of what the idiot politicians believe. SOME Batteries will be needed to start items. For Example: A gas dryer uses roughly 30 amps for about a half a second to start up. LED bulbs are fantastic. They use very little amperage and the lighting spectrum has come very close to incandescent bulbs! Look around. They even have solar refrigerators.'s picture
randolphgarriso... 7 years 2 weeks ago

trump is isolating America so his fascist takeover will not be interfered with by any outside nation as the French did during the Revolutionary war.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 2 weeks ago

I had a 24 panel ground mount solar PV system installed back in May. With State and Federal dollar for dollar tax credits, and a NYSERDA grant, I will end up paying slightly less than 40% of the total cost out of my own pocket. In addition the generated kWh will pay off that 40% cost in about 8 years. It's a no brainer to have solar installed ...don't know why I waited so long. BTW: Spanish energy giant "Iberdrola" owns our energy companies here in New York State. Look it up.

My installers feel that the future will trend toward off - grid PV system batteries. My system can easily be the carbon baron bastards are not going to win this one.

Small villages could easily create solar farms for residents, so no need to have proper rooftop orientation etc. I've offered one of my fields for this purpose.

Resist Fascism now!

Legend 7 years 2 weeks ago

Do not mistake small electrical producers for the need for a large grid. The grid is something that manufacturing and cities tap into for power. The grid is like a large battery that constantly needs to be charged. We need to keep the grid clean and readily available. It is a large part of our infrastructure and needs to be modern. The grid consists of 1000 MW power plants all the way to excess energy from home solar collectors. Utilities are currently trying to stop the home generator. CA has encouraged home electrical production and has actually created an excess under some conditions. This excess can easily be worked with by learning to store it. By converting our main transmission lines to DC we can afford to ship clean wind power from the mid-west to the east and west coast. We need to modernize our infrastructure. We are behind other major countries.

mwalkerco's picture
mwalkerco 7 years 2 weeks ago

Don't screw those of us with rooftop solar. In CO we managed to rally and fans
off attacks on us by Xcel Energy... I know America doesn't really stand for the little guy, but what happens to us down the road? Bastards...

changeX's picture
changeX 7 years 2 weeks ago

Do the Koch Bros own the patent on the photovoltaic solar cell yet? Besides, those pesky shiny solar panels attract pigeons and can harm birds, some say even Eagles. A quiz for you gentle reader, who said wind power turbines are killing our Eagles by the hundreds?

jibaro01's picture
jibaro01 7 years 2 weeks ago

There are things we should never have allowed to become a for profit enterprise. But, corrupt politicians know how to play with words and they know how to apeal to our baser instinct, so, they feed ideas into the public that are stupid and counter productive but, because the public's mind is so confused and full of fear, they don't see the lies for what they are and follow their piper even though the piper is ruinning them.

In any case, I though I might ask, solar and wind power are fine but might not be the best thing for big cities. How about thorium based nuclear plants? Supposedly they are clean, safe and their only waste product is useful and can be sold to NASA and medical companies, or so they say.

Just though you might talk about that a little.

Legend 7 years 2 weeks ago

Westinghouse is in bankruptcy right now from cost overuns building plants that are an old design. A new design would be very expensive.

dladdwolf's picture
dladdwolf 7 years 2 weeks ago

In addition to merely localizing the production of energy, using roof-top solar, small wind generators, etc., these technologies serve the utility industry by lightening the load during the highest-demand times - sunny days where the A/C is running hard. Other than their general opposition to energy that doesn't come from fossil fuels (that they have a monopoly on), these localized sources of power are actually supporting the utilities.

There should be no problem with small-scale solar and wind producers (i.e. net-metering folks) being assessed for a fair (not punitive) portion of the cost of maintaining the grid when they sell excess energy back to the grid. That is fair. If they were producers of farm products and wanted to sell their wares at the local farmer's market, they would have to pay for the booth space where they operate. Just make it a rate that represents a fair portion of the actual cost of operating the grid.

There are over 15,000,000 single-family residences in the United States. If only 50% of those residences were situated for solar exposure and were outfitted with rooftop panels, consider the grid load that would be lightened. That's a lotta coal that won't be burned.

We just need to force our legislators to incentivize sound research and development to improve conditions for promoting home installations. (Right, they'll get right on it....) It should be a matter of public safety and health - one of the principal reasons for legislation and regulation - to keep our air breathable and our climate stable.

Radical's picture
Radical 7 years 2 weeks ago

Dear john Best: Thank You for your fantastic comment. The Koch Brothers ALec and everyone like them should be tried for crimes and punished severely. I couldn't have sais it better myself.

Legend 7 years 2 weeks ago

With excess solar running the meter backwards the utility, in its opinion, is buying electricity from you at retail. I understand that and a deduction of no more than 10% or whatever normal markup sold to you should be allowed. Plus a connection fee. In my case $10 per month. If you put in a powerwall you can store excess.

gallde's picture
gallde 7 years 2 weeks ago

Thom, you are right on the money. The shift to sustainable power sources is fragile, and can be broken by a just few percent reduction in incentives. As a solar owner, I would be happy to pay a portion of the transport costs for the power I send back into the grid, but only on a net basis, which is zero for me. And the utilities gain from solar in that their need to build out capacity has dropped. So, unless they can show financial harm from distributed generation, we need to resist this money-grab.

changeX's picture
changeX 7 years 5 days ago

Way to go Mayor Philip Stoddard, who is the mayor of the fifth city in the country to pass an ordinance taking effect September 2017. It requires rooftop solar panels for all new homes built in the city.

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