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.
Major solar incentive runs out in Mass., surprising many
Solar energy in Massachusetts faces an uncertain future as two state programs that helped fuel a boom in solar installations are on hold, awaiting action by state officials.
On Friday, a generous incentive for the industry quietly evaporated, as subsidies that have helped finance solar power projects reached the limit set by the state. Another program, which allows homeowners and businesses to sell excess solar power to utilities, hit its limit in a large part of the state last year, and the Legislature has yet to lift the cap on the amount of power that utilities must buy from these sources at retail rates
Utilities, Solar Energy and the Fight for Your Roof
By many accounts, the spread of solar power is unstoppable. Costs continue to fall at a blistering pace, solutions to give consumers a solar-powered home without needing to connect to the grid for back-up power are emerging, and even the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in, with a recent ruling that is favorable for the solar energy market.
Seen another way, though, solar power is seeing serious threats.
Predictions from even last year were that solar energy would soon match the price of electricity from utilities — known as “grid parity” in the business. But the plummeting cost of natural gas, which has become the most used fuel to generate power, has kept electricity prices low. And after dropping precipitously for several years in a row, solar panel prices have recently levelled off, making grid parity more elusive.
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.