Friday, December 27, 2013

ALEC Conspires to Tax Private Solar Panel "Freeriders"

Crossposted on Dkos.
#77 of My Stupid State

Besides a few blogs, only the British media has covered this story. Not even the local Florida press bothered to pick this up. Although ALEC's influence over Florida GOP legislators is very well-known, it is rare that they are covered in the press.

Based on private documents obtained by the UK's Guardian newspaper, ALEC is conspiring with utility companies to tax homeowners who dare to use solar panels on their private homes. This comes after conservatives screamed about keeping the government out of our lives and such...

This attack on green energy is being framed as ideological, but its really all about keeping utility rates sky-high.

Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. They are in several states and once they took over Progress Energy became the largest public utility company in Florida. (They are my power company here in Seminole County as well.) They have always been a major backer of ALEC. Even after the mass exodus of companies that abandoned ALEC after their continued support for "stand your ground" laws after the Trayvon shooting, Duke stood by them. Hell, they even spent big bucks to host them in back in May.

Which is why the released documents showing Duke as a "lapsed" ALEC member is....most interesting. Duke Energy won't publically say if they are still with ALEC or not. My guess is that they support what ALEC is doing but no longer want the political baggage of being associated with them--especially when you consider their next move.

ALEC is dead-set on attacking green energy and has a number of proposals to do so. One of their more devious ones is their attempt to push high taxes on solar panels. Here in Florida, there are more and more houses figuring out it is a lot cheaper to put solar panels on their house. Even my teabag neighbor had several installed because "Obaaama wants high costs to keep us from coal..." or something like that.

But its not Obama he has to worry about.

John Eick of ALEC:

"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."

Read that last sentence again. Try to wrap your head around this: a solar panel FEEDS electricity into the damn grid. Solar panel users are "makers", not "takers", so a conservative should argue that they be given a damn tax credit. But no, ALEC is conspiring with utility companies to say they should instead be taxed for that.

It's sort of like giving a donation to charity but having to pay an extra fee because now the charity has extra work to do in handling your donation they otherwise wouldn't have had.

Only a conservative would understand that "logic".

Yet that is what they are arguing and, at least in Arizona, it has been somewhat successful. The main AZ utility company tried to charge $100 dollars extra a month to customers who had solar panels installed. That would have negated all or most of the savings of installing the panels in the first place, and essentially taxed them out of existence (which was the point). The company spent over $4 million on a lavish ad campaign to convince idiots that this was a good idea.

Arizona regulators eventually agreed to a $5 fee. It was a blow to the utility company considering they wanted to tax the panels out of existence, but it was still ridiculous that they had to pay anything extra at all.

Here in Florida, Duke Energy is silent on this topic. But I have no doubt where they stand.

After all, it was Duke Energy that was allowed to jack up rates on their customers to pay for a fantasy nuclear plant in Levy County — which they announced in August wasn't going to be built after all. But we will continue to pay on it for another FOUR YEARS because, as usual, lobbyists wrote the bill and consumers were left out in the cold (or in our case down here, the heat).

That happens a lot here.

To add insult to the indignity of having us cover the costs of their boondoggle (to the tune of thousands of extra dollars per customer), this "public" utility found a half-million dollars to donate to the state GOP!

So I think they are getting enough.

If you think so as well, please tell DUKE not to tax solar panels.


  1. Daylight hours stress the grid. Solar actually reduces demand during peak hours. Especially in warmer climates when everyone hits the AC when the suns up. Obviously the utilities don't like anything that cuts into their fat peak hourly rate.

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