Solar Predators

by David Flemming

Vermont’s solar industry has taken a hit after two companies, Suniva and SolarWorld, proposed a tariff on imported low-cost solar components. Suniva and SolarWorld both manufacture solar panels in the US and have struggled to compete against Vermont companies like SunCommon and Encore Renewable Energy that import their solar panels.

SunCommon representatives have plans to testify in Washington against the tariff. While free market advocates will find this action laudable, SunCommon has always been opportunistic when it comes to legislation. Back in 2010, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group’s (VPIRG) energy lobbyist James Moore and its board president Duane Peterson founded SunCommon. In 2012, they rallied for “legislation will seek to extend the less onerous registration process to include systems up to 10kW — effectively including all potential [SunCommon] residential systems.”

Chad Farrell, CEO of Encore Renewable Energy, says that solar has become a “robust industry” in Vermont, in large part because utilities “have embraced solar.” The word “embraced” is a bit of a stretch. Since 1997, Vermont’s government has forced electric utilities to allow Vermonters who produce more solar energy than they consume to sell it back to the utilities in a process known as “net metering.” Not only that, but since net metering consumers are paid more than the market rate of electricity, customers without the capacity to produce solar energy pay more for their power. The net metering rate is even higher thanks to the lobbying efforts of  SunCommon in 2012.

If SunCommon loses the battle against the solar tariff, perhaps they will finally be able to empathize with Vermonters who are paying more for electricity thanks to SunCommon’s lobbying efforts. There is no distinction between predator and prey when it comes to lobbying.

- David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

SHAZZAM August 25, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Solar panels are a really good idea in hot countries where solar power supplies correlate with times of high demand and a combination of wind and storage might make sense in a country where price doesn’t matter. It’s well past time for the green Left and their political allies to quit claiming that we don’t need hydrocarbons or nuclear energy. They prefer appalling delusions about renewables to real science and simple math.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448846/100-percent-renewable-energy-dream-delusional-nas-says

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Jim Bulmer August 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Follow the MONEY! No subsidies, no solar “industry” in Vermont. When if ever will Vermonters without solar cease paying higher electrical rates to subsidize the monies paid to the solar home folks?

Reply

Willem Post September 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Jim,

The most egregious travesty is the PSB paying 24 – 30 c/kWh to out of state millionaires with tax shelters, who own the large solar systems in meadows.

It is called the SPEED program, a grossly wasteful boondoggle perpetrated on Vermonters so some folks can say be are leaders.

Another nail in the coffin of the anemic, near-zero, real-growth Vermont economy.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
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