Should we be surprised about the latest dirty trick in the war on solar?

This week we saw a new low in the fight between sustainable energy generation and profit. We know energy is a political hot potato and political tactics have been used from day one, but for utility companies to stand on this particular platform of public interest is a little unsavory.

Positioning solar as the preserve of the wealthy, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, is misleading. Paying minority groups to act as the mouthpiece is just tacky.

They say that lower income groups are paying higher electricity bills to subsidize solar systems for those who can afford them. But that’s a very convenient way to look at things, especially when it means it can avert attention from the fact that electricity bills have been rising at an exorbitant rate, way before solar power was even an option. Not only that, but the majority of our electricity bills are used to repair an overloaded and decaying grid, not because fuel prices are increasing. And this before we even get to the environmental impact.

Additionally, the benefits of solar are far-reaching. We work with those hardest hit by the unfair pricing schedules of the utility companies, such as religious institutions, nonprofits, and small and medium-sized businesses all over Southern California who pump money saved from the utility monopoly to fund community projects that improve neighborhoods and provide better education services. They also sell solar power back to utility companies, so you can see why they are upset. 

Solar is increasingly affordable, now that the technology as been proven to stand the test of time and the cost of equipment is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. There are specific programs available across the country for those who want to use clean energy, regardless of income or socio-economic grouping.

Ultimately, the more people who install solar systems on their homes and businesses, the cheaper clean energy becomes for everyone. Right now, people are saving huge percentages from their bills and eliminating a vast amount of pollution from their air. The more this happens, the less we have to worry about the environmental and health costs that continue to be our legacies for our children.

Utility companies have a big role to play in the evolution of our energy supply and slowing down the rate of growth of a competitor is just business. But what we are talking about it more than just business, and we have to stand together to make sure our reducing quality of living is not the source of a dinosaur’s profit. 

Jamie Vodden
VP, Strategy and Communications