Why are there restrictions on solar?
Why can an electric utility tell me how I can power my home or business?
Why do some states not allow community solar (yes, I’m talking about you Ohio!!!) or net metering (shame on you Indiana!!!)?
What’s up with Florida not allowing Power Purchase Agreements, also known as PPAs?
Is this the American way?
Perhaps it is. Monopolies are part of U.S. history and are usually addressed with Standard Oil the first coming to mind. So why has the electric utility monopoly continually escaped this scrutiny?
Ok, I’ll step off my soapbox and share this insighful article by Michael Bloomberg that addresses issues including reliability and affordability of electricity.
When freezing temperatures in the southeastern US led to blackouts over the holidays, some pointed their fingers at clean energy. That line of attack — solar panels and wind turbines are less reliable in storms than coal and gas plants — has become predictable. But it’s dead wrong, and it’s important to understand why, to avoid allowing a canard to slow the push for cleaner air and bolder climate action.
The issue of electricity reliability is a crucial one and is rightly at the center of energy debates. Blackouts from storms can lead to suffering and death: In western New York last month, nine residents died after power failures cut off heat to their homes. Blackouts also result in steep economic losses. Avoiding them should be a top priority.
The most common cause of blackouts, downed power lines, is also the most visible. But there is one source of energy that safeguards against that danger: rooftop solar. If a tree takes down wires, or the energy grid fails for other reasons, solar panels with batteries can help families and businesses weather a blackout.
It’s true that on-site solar is not practical for every home, but it’s viable in far more places than commonly imagined. And the main reason more homes and businesses don’t have their own solar panels is political: States and localities have made it unnecessarily difficult to obtain solar permits, and utilities have lobbied to block Americans from selling their excess power back onto the grid or force them into accepting prices far below what the utilities receive for transmitting the same units of power.
As a result, the public is paying a steep cost: in higher electric bills, dangerous blackouts, harmful pollution that kills thousands of Americans every year, and changes to the climate that are making extreme weather — and the suffering that it brings — worse.