By Robert A. Vella
America is a place of great treasures, and one of its most valuable is millions of square miles of sun-drenched land just begging for commercial development. Solar power, in all its various forms, is just what America’s doctor ordered – a virtually limitless supply of affordable energy available to restore an ailing nation back to prosperity. But, there is a problem; and, it’s a big one.
The U.S. states with the most solar potential – in the southwest, southeast, and southern plains – are nearly all controlled by the Republican Party. And, in this era of ideological extremism and rampant corporatism, Republicans have allied themselves with the double-headed monster embodied in climate change denial and a desperate, yet still powerful fossil fuel industry. That allegiance is posing a serious roadblock to solar power development which could eventually be stymied altogether at the national level.
From The New York Times – SolarCity and Other Rooftop Providers Face a Cloudier Future:
Just two years ago, SolarCity and other rooftop solar providers were Wall Street darlings, and prospects for growth were flying high, as enthusiasm for solar power was seemingly boundless.
After all, they had built a better mousetrap, allowing the masses to install environmentally minded solar power systems at little or no cost to them and to reduce their electricity bills at the same time.
But in two years, the landscape has drastically shifted.
Nevada recently rolled back the generous support it gave rooftop solar systems; 20 other states are rethinking their policies, as well. And despite the extension of an important federal tax credit last year, losses by rooftop solar companies have accelerated.
SolarCity, the nation’s largest provider of rooftop systems, is but the most visible of a cluster of companies, built with the aid of government subsidies and utility incentives, now facing deep uncertainties, despite unflagging consumer interest and surging growth in renewable energy.
From Rolling Stone – The Koch Brothers’ Dirty War on Solar Power:
After decades of false starts, solar power in America is finally poised for its breakthrough moment. The price of solar panels has dropped by more than 80 percent since President Obama took office, and the industry is beginning to compete with coal and natural gas on economics alone.
But the birth of Big Solar poses a grave threat to those who profit from burning fossil fuels. And investor-owned utilities, together with Koch-brothers-funded front groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are mounting a fierce, rear-guard resistance at the state level – pushing rate hikes and punishing fees for homeowners who turn to solar power. Their efforts have darkened green-energy prospects in could-be solar superpowers like Arizona and Nevada. But nowhere has the solar industry been more eclipsed than in Florida, where the utilities’ powers of obstruction are unrivaled.
The Sunshine State has the best solarity east of the Mississippi, and the third-best rooftop solar potential in America. Yet measured by solar production, it ranks just 16th in the nation. It’s dwarfed by solar giants like California. Florida even lags behind Northern states like New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York. “It defies logic,” says former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. “It’s absolutely absurd.”
The solar industry in Florida has been boxed out by investor-owned utilities (IOUs) that reap massive profits from natural gas and coal. These IOUs wield outsize political power in the state capital of Tallahassee, and flex it to protect their absolute monopoly on electricity sales. “We live in the Stone Age in regard to renewable power,” says state Rep. Dwight Dudley, the ranking Democrat on the energy subcommittee in the Florida House. “The power companies hold sway here, and the consumers are at their mercy.”