"One BIG thing we've noticed since the last time we were here----Kauai has gone solar!!! Solar panels are everywhere now! I especially like the way they made covered parking with solar panels on the roofs.'
U.S. Solar electric capacity has expanded explosively - 418%
- from 2326 megawatts in 2010 to 12,057 MW in February 2014, an increase of 9,731 MW
reports the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Solar has moved rapidly from a niche market to 1.13% of total U.S. capacity. To stop the rapid growth of solar, which is threatening to break Americans from the death grip of fossil fuels, the Koch Brothers are demanding to tax the sun.
U.S installed solar capacity shot up over 400% in the last 4 years.
The rapid decline in the cost of solar panels and state and federal incentives have spurred investment in solar power at all scales from individuals to small businesses to large utilities. Net metering, which allows users to reverse their power meter when they produce more power than they consume, has incentivized rooftop solar. Moreover, states from Hawaii to South Carolina have developed programs to make the installation costs affordable to average consumers. Forbes reported in July 2013 on how Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii's Democrats made solar accessible to renters.
This is exactly the kind of legislation I advocated a decade earlier when I ran for a position on the board of Kauai's electric power co-op. It's great to see seeds planted finally coming up and bearing fruit.
Senate Bill 1087, which Gov. Abercrombie signed on June 27, makes solar photovoltaic systems, as well as solar thermal water heaters and big-ticket energy efficiency upgrades, available to all these underserved customers by eliminating the thorny issue of the upfront costs.
On-bill financing enables residential or commercial property owners or renters to avoid the initial out-of-pocket expense to install energy improvements. Upgrades are instead financed with loans paid back via a line item on the customer’s monthly utility bill. If the property is sold or transferred, the loan stays with the meter and would be taken over by the new property owner or tenant.
But, this great progress in bringing clean energy to the individual threatens monopolists from the Koch brothers to electric utilities. The Koch's AFP have conspired with utilities to write legislation to force individuals to pay a tax to the utility companies for accessing the grid. The Koch Brother's AFP has demanded laws to tax the sun.
And damn if Oklahoma didn't just cave to the Kochs' demands.
Anyone living in Oklahoma planning to power their home using a rooftop solar panel will soon be charged a fee for the right to do that while still being connected to the local power grid.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the “solar surcharge” bill into law on Monday, permitting utilities to charge an extra fee to any customer using distributed power generation, such as rooftop solar or a small wind turbine.
The Kochs have been pushing, through AFP ads, the dishonest meme that rooftop solar owners aren't carrying their fare share of utility system costs. The dishonesty lies in the failure to mention how rooftop solar and distributed power helps reduce the demand for peak power in mid-summer allowing power producers to avoid costs for building new power plants to meet peak demand. Moreover, power distributors not in the generation business are able to avoid paying for the most expensive peak power. But that's not what the utilities are telling the politicians and public. They are lobbying that solar power generators are freeloaders.
“Right now, a distributed generation customer is really paying less for the maintenance of the infrastructure than our other customers,” despite the up-front costs of installing solar panels on a roof, said Kathleen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Gas and Electric, or OGE, one of the state’s largest utilities.
Of OGE’s 800,000 customers, between 200 and 400 of them use rooftop solar or wind, she said.
“As solar prices come down and this becomes more popular, we want to make sure everybody who’s using the grid is paying their fair share,” she said, adding that it’s unfair for the utility’s traditional customers — roughly 799,600 of them — to foot the bill for grid maintenance when several hundred people end up saving money by using their own solar panels to provide power to the utility while not paying the grid maintenance surcharge.
“It’s kind of like, let’s get this done now before we are suddenly having 20,000 customers,” O’Shea said.
While OGE and other utilities say it's unfair that wind and solar owners aren't being charged for grid maintenance, those owners aren't getting compensated for the excess clean power they put into the grid for everyone else to use. And it doesn't take into account the upfront costs of installing solar panels or wind turbines themselves.
In fact, solar has become a threat to the profits of the Koch Brothers and a number of large for-profit utilities. Rachel Maddow and the Daily Oklahoman have exposed what the Koch Brothers and Oklahoma utilities are doing behind the scenes.
“Maybe this means that alternative energy — like solar energy — is now viable enough to be an actual threat to the bottom line of the oil and gas and coal industries. We say it’s the four stages, right? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Well, solar has apparently moved on from being ignored or laughed at, and now they’re fighting it.”…
According to the Daily Oklahoman, Maddow’s theory is not far-fetched: a report published last year by the Edison Electric Institute voiced concern over the prospect of solar or wind power becoming a feasible option for more consumers.
“When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened,” the report said. “As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.”
Subsequently, both the Edison Institute and the Koch Brothers-funded activist group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) have run television ad campaigns threatening utilities customers with drastic rate increases. An AFP ad that ran in Kansas also linked renewable energy to opposition to the Affordable Care Act by mentioning that she supported a 2009 law requiring utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from alternative sources.
“Our state directors have been weighing in on energy legislation through office visits in their state houses,” AFP told Maddow’s show in a statement. “AFP activists are very engaged on energy issues; they’re overwhelmingly opposed to government policies that restrict their access to affordable energy.”
The Koch Brothers are frequently described librertarian, but they want us all to be dependent on their dirty fossil fuel. They don't care about anyone's liberty but their own. They want to have the government to use eminent domain to take the land of ranchers and farmers to build Keystone XL to ship their dirty tar sands oil to Texas for refining and export. And they are demanding that the government taxes the sun.