Lobbying efforts attempt to fool public into thinking residential solar panels will cost everyone more.
Many utility companies contend that net rate hikes are necessary to even out the playing field in return for the credits that are paid out to households with residential solar panels. Many contend that it’s just a veiled attempt to turn the public against solar. So the question becomes: How much does solar energy really hurt the utility company’s bottom line?
Grist looked at this issue in Wisconsin where the state utility is trying to raise fixed rates by as much as 75 percent in some places. Wisconsin gets 62 percent of its energy from coal and only 7 percent from renewable energy, most of which is biomass, hydroelectric, and wind. With solar contributing to such a minimal piece of the energy pie, it’s hard to believe that it’s really worth jacking up prices a whopping 75 percent.
But here’s where it gets even weirder. According to Grist:
A Texas-based utility trade lobby, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), attempted to intervene by claiming it found 2,500 Wisconsonites who support the rate hikes. CEA submitted the names to Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission during a public hearing earlier this month.
Eventually the list was tossed out because of numerous problems but it begs to question, why did CEA initially become involved?
The Alliance’s founder, DC lobbyist Michael Whatley, has been behind a number of large-scale PR campaigns designed to fight policies that would wean us off carbon-intensive fuel sources. His lobbying firm, HBW Resources, represents the interests of fossil fuel, utility, and tobacco industries.
So in a twisted turn of events, CEA wanted rates to be raised in an effort to turn the public against solar energy by making them think it’s WAY more costly than it is, but in order to succeed the rate hike would have to have support. But they would never have had the opportunity if not for the greedy utility company. Double dirty.
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