U.S. utilities trying to block solar: A plan to fight back

U.S. utilities trying to block solar: A plan to fight back

Renewables are fast becoming more and more popular – a fact that many utilities seem to consider threatening, as they try various measures to block them. Environment America has now released a new report, explaining how to fight back.


Only this month has the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy released new information regarding the current situation on the U.S. energy market. This includes the fact that renewables reach a historic number by making 15 % of the U.S. market. Albeit only 1.4 % of these renewables are solars it still means a 40 % increase from 2015.

Many experts, especially from the field of environmental research and protection, applaud these developments. Numerous utilities, on the other hand, seem to think differently. They are forming front groups and coordinating attacks in order to slow solar’s growth.


Report on solar protection released

This week, the Environment America Research & Policy Center released a report called „Blocking the Sun“ that describes how the solar industry can fend these attacks off. A total of 17 groups backing fuel power and electric utilities that are launching aggressive campaigns to slow solar’s growth in 12 states are named in the report. In order to fight these, Environment America has started a “Stand Up for Solar” campaign. As a result, there were 117 separate approaches that changed or tried to change different regulations concerning the solar industry by mid-2016, or so the the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s most recent 50 States of Solar Policy Report states.


Main threats for solar

Among the different threats and anti-solar movements are oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have started a determined anti-solar campaign, which is funded with large amounts of money that works its way through a series of intransparent non-profit organizations.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a conservative organization which coordinates nationwide legislative campaigns against renewable energy. It is also partly funded by the Koch’s money. With the help of ALEC’s coordinated legislations, anti-renewable energy campaigns are more easily and almost effortlessly launched. Thus utilities in at least eight states have started elaborate campaigns working against solar.

Also, many states perform changes in net-metering. The idea behind it is to to modify or eliminate the credit rates the states have to pay to solar customers who export solar electricity to the grid. Further than that, demand charges specifically targeting solar customers are increasingly popular as well. These are often justified with the newspaper hoax that solar customers don’t pay their fair share for grid maintenance.

Whether or not the measures developed by Environment America can be of help in the act of fending off the utilities remains to be seen.


Title image: kuznetcov_konstantin/shutterstock