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Monday, September 14, 2015

Why Is EPEC So Afraid of Solar?

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It seems that the El Paso Electric Company is afraid of the solar industry. They seem afraid of your having solar panels on your home and producing your own clean energy. If you buy electricity from them even if it is generated by photovoltaic panels, that's okay. Just don't produce your own, thank you very much. Why?

Of course it cuts into their profits. It's not just solar users, it's most of us. Over the last five or so years, demand for electricity has been down in El Paso. Solar is a very small part of reducing that demand. More efficient appliances and energy efficient homes have reduced demand. Yet, EPEC wants all of us - not just solar users - to pay higher fees to help them build more production facilities. Why? Again, demand is down. 

First, know that EPEC sells energy that it doesn't use back to the grid where other utilities can buy it. They make money on excess electricity. We are all subsidizing EPEC by financing their capital improvements. They improve, sell to the grid and get you to pay for all of it. Over five years they have made just about a half billion dollars in El Paso. How much has gone back to our community? A thousand buck pop for this thing or that thing. Good PR only.

Second, EPEC's rate hike on solar is really part of a nationwide cabal by the oil and gas industry and the electrical utilities to stop solar - to take away your right to buy a different product. They and their cronies talk free markets, but the unspoken disclaimer is that the market is free as long as it only belongs to them.

The Koch brothers and big utilities campaign to unplug solar power is the title of a David Horsey piece for the Los Angeles Times last year. About the tea party darlings, Horsey writes: "Consumer choice. Business competition. Autonomy for individual Americans. Those certainly seem like sound conservative principles. You would think that is something the Koch brothers could appreciate, but, obviously, their brand of conservatism is defined less by principles than by profits." Note to readers: the Kochs aren't really conservatives. They are oligarchs. As the article mentions, real conservatives like Barry Goldwater, Jr. (Yes, Barry's boy and a good man. I've met him.) Barry Jr. is for consumer choice.

Even the Walmart Waltons have joined the effort to stop you from having solar panels on your home. Certainly Walmart isn't a utility or a natural gas or coal producer. But they are 30% owners of First Solar, a company that makes solar arrays for utility companies. First Solar and the good ol' Waltons don't want you making your own energy. They want you to buy electricity from utilities. That is why the Walmart heirs "have given $4.5 million dollars to groups like the American Enterprise Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Prosperity—groups that are attacking renewable energy policies at the state level and, specifically, pushing for fees on rooftop solar installations." Read more HERE.

Remarkably the Walmart is the largest corporate user of solar panels. In Walmart Is the Biggest Corporate Solar User. Why Are Its Owners Funding Groups That Oppose Solar?Tim McDonnell states:"Walmart loves solar power—as long as it's on their roof, and not yours." Tim's article also has a long list of the groups Walmart supports. All these groups in one way or another are fighting clean energy.

EPEC wants you to pay for their production so that they can sell the excess energy to other utilities. They don't want you to use solar and will dissuade you from doing so not because of what they are saying in their PR hype, but because they are part of a nationwide effort to destroy the solar industry so they and they alone sell you electricity. 

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