Oklahoma Charges through the Nose: Solar Success Attracts Fees
Last Monday, Oklahoma became one of the first states to pass a bill charging residential and other solar power users with grid-tied solar and wind power installations a monthly fee. The amount of the fee, yet to be determined, is backed by utility companies, which argue that net metering allows users to ignore the fixed costs of maintaining the power grid, forcing rates to go up for other users. Thinkprogress.org reported that while clean energy advocates had strongly opposed the bill, it was added into the draft bill late in the process, preventing opponents from mobilizing effectively. While Oklahoma was one battleground, other state-level fights are also beginning to occur. The conservative think tank Americans For Prosperity (AFP) has drafted "model legislation" on solar energy. While most of the utilities are themselves not strongly against solar energy, many in the fossil fuel sector are beginning to see it as a real threat and are acting to undermine solar industry growth. With the two-fold goal of rolling back state laws as well as undermining incentives to go solar, these new attacks are the opening salvos of what will likely be a contentious battle over how the solar industry will work. While solar has been largely uncontroversial until now, industry growth has pushed solar energy into the limelight. Battles over state-level solar legislation are the opening salvos in what is likely to be an ongoing question of solar policy for years to come.