Right wing sets sights on US solar

The battle lines are being drawn up over U.S. solar, according to an editorial in left-leaning newspaper The New York Times.

In an article on Saturday April 25, the Times said the rising popularity of net metering, under which homeowners with rooftop solar or small wind turbines have the right to sell excess energy back to state grids, has caused a backlash from right-wing groups backed by the fossil-fuel industry and state utilities.

The NY Times claims the anti-solar brigade have two targets in sight, net metering and requirements by various states that a percentage of electricity generation come from renewables.

The editorial says a decision by the senate of the Republican state of Oklahoma to impose a tax on net metering customers was dictated by Republican state legislators interest group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and is part of a co-ordinated attack on net metering across the U.S.

Oklahoma senate decision

Newspaper The Oklahoman reported the decision by the state senate to introduce a new net metering tariff by the end of 2015 provided the proposal, approved by an 83-5 vote and without debate, is given the green light by governor Mary Fallin. Under the proposal only new household renewables installations would be affected and solar co-operatives would be exempt.

The NY Times claims ALEC and organisations including Americans for Prosperity, a lobby group financed by prominent right-wingers David and Charles Koch, are trying to persuade the numerous U.S. states which offer net metering to tax distributed renewables generation and roll back state renewables generation targets.

The, usually anti-tax, Republicans argue that offering net metering payments to households which have installed renewables unfairly penalizes those without, which are left to bear the burden of maintaining state grid infrastructure.

The NY Times editorial adds that the Kansas state legislature refused to bow to pressure on its renewables policy and that Arizona reduced the tax on net metering to just $5 per month but that the renewables industry is bracing itself for a nationwide, state by state assault on distributed generation.