Solar Power Attracts Unlikely Supporters

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The growth of solar power is attracting some unlikely supporters and creating some unusual alliances. Conservatives, Tea Party activists, and free market libertarians are joining with progressives and environmentalists to address economic issues raised by the increasing adoption of solar power.

In Georgia, a Tea Party leader, the Sierra Club, Occupy Atlanta, and the NAACP have formed the Green Tea Coalition to empower consumers’ access to solar power. In Arizona, Barry Goldwater Jr., a modern conservative and former congressman, and the son of a classic conservative icon, led the resistance to Arizona’s utilities’ effort to collect a $100 monthly surcharge from its solar customers. The issues are two: use of the existing grid and net metering.

Traditional utilities argue that solar power users do not pay their fair share for use of the existing power grid. They also object to the net metering subsidies solar users get for the excess energy they feed back into the grid. In reply, the new coalitions point to the billions of dollars in subsidies that flow to the fossil fuel industry. And one productive compromise on grid use has been reached: the Arizona Public Utilities commission and its solar customers have agreed on a $5 monthly fee contribution toward grid maintenance. The bottom line? Solar power, a disruptive technology, is also producing disruptive change in the political-ideological context for debating renewable energy issues.

Article by John Howell, appearing courtesy 3BL Media.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • Kimberly Dawson

    This is to be expected in an that has been economy based on oil for decades. But with solar panes getting so much cheaper and more people conscious of the environment, it is inevitable.