Conservatives battling over solar energy

Posted Aug 13, 2013 by Amanda Byas
From the day in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan looked at the solar array that had sat briefly atop the White House, conservative politicians in the United States and abroad had a growing aversion towards renewables.
Solar power in Germany.
Solar power in Germany.
Rainer Lippert
Many conservatives, predominantly those on the far right of the spectrum, simply refuse to acknowledge that solar energy can play a useful role in modern-day energy systems, and it was an unnecessary extension of government regulation. This has baffled many people in the solar industry.
David Lorens, the founder of solar company One Block Off The Grid wrote:
“Let's make sure that before anyone paints me as some San Franciscan, solar-company-running, ultra-left-wing-fruitcake, please know that I am assuredly not. I'm a fiscal conservative, I own a gun, and capitalism is the blood that runs through my veins. So back off. ”
In Georgia, there has been a fine line between the conservatives. The local branch of the Tea Party has affiliated itself with solar interests and environmental NGOs to intensify the monopoly utility Georgia Power to open its system to more solar energy. Strangely, it has very little to do with the need to take on climate goals. It is being argued — as Lorens say — as a property issue, opposing private citizens against utilities, regulators and fixed rates of recurrence.
This push to boost solar power as an individual right is being carried by the new financial case for solar power: the plummeting price of solar modules — they have decreased 80 percent in the last four years — means households can install solar panels on the rooftop and tremendously lower their electricity bills. The development of this is challenging the revenue and the profit pool for grid operators and fossil fuel generators.
Even analysts at well-known investment banks illustrate the creation of solar power unstoppable. The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group that signifies most investor own utilities in the United States, states solar power is a direct threat to the centralized utility system.
This can explain why lobby groups are set against the Georgia solar decision. Americans for Prosperity, similar to the Tea Party, who have been encouraged and sponsored by the oil billionaires the Koch brothers, is rejecting the Georgia faction as a deviation. It turned the issue of rights on its head by fighting solar panels on rooftops will “infringe upon the territorial rights to the distribution grids” of the network operators.
It sets the stage for an enthralling clash of two sides of conservative thought — one that stays true to the philosophy of individual rights against centralized control, while the other side is for protection of vested and compulsory interests.