Monday Jul. 13 2020


YOUR LOCATION:HOME > News Center > Overseas News

The sun is rising on solar panels, and there"s no fighting it Time:2017/01/19 14:58:04 Hit:773

On the average sunny day, Germany¡¯s huge energy grid gets 40 percent of its


power from the sun. Guess what happened one recent morning when the sun went


into eclipse. Nothing.


Or close to nothing. When the moon hid the sun for a few hours, the backup


natural gas and coal plants switched on. The price of electricity rose briefly.


That was it. Solar again showed itself to be a reliable energy source under a


tough challenge.


Back in the United States, meanwhile, electric companies and various fossil-fuel


interests are fighting the American public¡¯s growing passion for rooftop solar


panels. They¡¯re also doing battle with state laws requiring utilities to get a


certain percentage of their power from renewable sources.


Oil, gas and coal lobbyists, fed by Koch brother checks, are backing a campaign


by utilities to slap fees on solar panels. Their target is net metering ¡ª the


system whereby homes and businesses with solar panels sell their excess


electricity back to the grid.


In Arizona, the big utility Salt River Project is adding a $50-a-month surcharge


for customers with rooftop solar panels. SRP argues, as do other utilities, that


solar customers rely on the grid for backup power when the sun doesn¡¯t shine


and should pay for it.


Studies out of Missouri, New York, Texas, Nevada and Vermont counter that the


alleged subsidies to those with solar panels are being offset. After all, solar


consumers reduce the amount of power the utilities must provide ¡ª especially on


hot sunny days, when demand is high. And a price can be put on greenhouse gases


that were not emitted.


Big voices in the conservative movement are leading the charge for solar panel


taxes. They also liken states¡¯ green-energy mandates to Obamacare. The


conservative masses, however, don¡¯t seem to be taking the bait. You don¡¯t even


have to ask about the liberals.


A power source that is domestic, is pollution-free and costs nothing (once the


panels are paid off) ¡ª all courtesy of Mr. Sun ¡ª would seem to be in our


national interests. Also, how interesting that SRP, in super-sunny Arizona,


reportedly gets less than 2 percent of its power from solar and wind sources




Huge numbers of Americans have been installing solar panels, thanks to better


and cheaper technology. Businesses that stand to lose from this fact have set


off clashes in nearly half the states ¡ª from Maine to California and Washington


to South Carolina.


The utilities weren¡¯t getting much traction in the legislatures ¡ª even in such


Republican states as Indiana and Utah. So they turned to the public utilities


commissions, where they can get a more private hearing.


Pro-solar conservatives hold that taxing solar panels stifles competition. A


group called T.U.S.K. (Tell Utilities Solar won¡¯t be Killed) is led by a former


congressman named Barry Goldwater Jr. (the son).


Of a plan in Indiana to tax solar panels, one woman wrote, ¡°Indiana¡¯s


utilities are interested in keeping us reliant on traditional fuel sources that


hurt our national security and weaken our economy.¡± She would be Roberta


Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America.


So U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can huff and puff about a ¡°war


on coal,¡± but to little avail. By the way, the domestic solar industry now


employs more workers than does coal mining.


The utilities¡¯ distress is understandable, but they can¡¯t win this war. The


means of generating energy are undergoing profound change worldwide. The


utilities must change their business model or, if they can¡¯t, concede the


inevitable. You can¡¯t stop the march of solar power any more than you can stop


the sun from rising.



Original:Froma Harrop