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ALEC Losing Support, Pivots to Attacking Solar

12/05/13

  09:22:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 488 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Ranting, Net Metering

ALEC Losing Support, Pivots to Attacking Solar

The right-wing policy/lobbying group, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), bleeding supporters since its advocacy for “stand your ground laws” exploded in its face after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, has decided to tackle a new demon - solar power. We’re “freeloaders", didn’t you know?

Of course, being attacked from the Right is nothing new, as this fascinating and depressing video montage demonstrates:

But now our friends over at the Guardian are reporting that “ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners in assault on clean energy,” during the group’s three-day meeting this week in Washington, D.C. As we have described in the past, ALEC mostly acts behind the scenes to generate legislative proposals for state legislators across the country. While ALEC membership in the California legislature is very low - only 11 of 120 members belong - in some states - particularly Iowa and South Dakota - the percentage of ALEC membership is as high as 100%.

Not content with its “Electricity Freedom Act” (which would repeal a state’s renewable energy portfolio standard), ALEC is now setting its sites on individual homeowners. From the Guardian story:

Further details of Alec’s strategy were provided by John Eick, the legislative analyst for Alec’s energy, environment and agriculture program.

Eick told the Guardian the group would be looking closely in the coming year at how individual homeowners with solar panels are compensated for feeding surplus electricity back into the grid.

“This is an issue we are going to be exploring,” Eick said. He said Alec wanted to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation – and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.

“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.”

This is the same battle against net metering that we have been writing about since PG&E declared war on solar nearly a year ago. No doubt ALEC is hoping that it can reverse its funding woes by bringing in utilities from around the country with this new, and utterly cynical, campaign.

Rachel Maddow picked up the story last night with a long piece providing decades of context and concluded with an interview of one of the Guardian reporters who broke the story.

While California is largely immune from the nonsense being peddled by ALEC, other states aren’t so lucky.  In Arizona, where a bruising battle over net metering was just fought, 49% of the legislature are members of ALEC, according to ALEC internal documents made public by the Guardian (see p. 39).  Looks like that fight is just beginning.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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