The Koch Attack on Solar Energy

Fossil fuel companies are already feeling the sting of the exponential growth of solar power, doubling every couple of years, up 400% since 2010. Some of them are counter-attacking by trying to impose a surtax on solar power.

The Editorial Board of the New York Times wrote 26 April 2014, The Koch Attack on Solar Energy,

David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, 23 April 2014
At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels.

For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities. So they’ve been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.

Oklahoma lawmakers recently approved such a surcharge at the behest of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that often dictates bills to Republican statehouses and receives financing from the utility industry and fossil-fuel producers, including the Kochs. As The Los Angeles Times reported recently, the Kochs and ALEC have made similar efforts in other states, though they were beaten back by solar advocates in Kansas and the surtax was reduced to $5 a month in Arizona.

Georgia Power tried to get the Georgia Public Service Commission to do that last summer, but a broad coalition led by Georgia Sierra Club convinced them not to even bring it up.

Dominion Power did get a similar measure passed in Virginia in 2011.

If FPL hasn’t tried yet in Florida or Alabama, they will.

Because yes, ALEC, the far-more-powerful than a mere lobbyist group American Legislative Exchange, is behind it. The same ALEC whose pet state legislators are pushing the fake “Agenda 21” talking points on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. There is of course a real U.N. Agenda 21 adopted at a U.N. conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The same Rio conference about which 20 years later at the Rio+20 conference sustainability activists complained that nothing effective had been done about actually stopping climate change. And that ineffective do-good paper wasn’t about what the “Agenda 21” talking points say anyway: it’s not about opposing marriage or revoking private property or forcing people to all live in tenements. The U.N. paper was about sustainability, as in keeping a small planet livable. Some fossil fuel companies don’t care about that, so they have promoted the fake “Agenda 21” talking points to try to stop any effective action.

And some fossil fuel companies, especially the Koch brothers, seem to be aiming for more direct action of their own, such as this solar surtax. After all, what could be more sustainable than a world run solely on sun, wind, and water, with no coal, oil, “natural” gas, or nuclear? And where would those record fossil fuel profits be, then? Not so big, with oil used mostly for lubricating, not burning.

The NYTimes editorial concludes:

This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.

A popular reaction to all this is:

sounds like we need more co-op power companies and off-grid homes….

Or we need to pry fossil fuel’s clammy grasp off our political system.


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