News | March 9, 2015

Utilities’ behind-the-scenes campaign against solar comes to light

The Washington Post ran a hard-hitting investigative story this weekend on how utilities are waging a campaign against rooftop solar. The article noted how solar is more affordable and accessible than ever before – with solar prices down 60% over the past five years and the residential solar industry now employing twice as many as the number of coal miners nationwide – but as a result, utilities view solar as a threat to profits.

The article details how utilities have developed a “determined campaign to stop a home solar insurgency.” The first phase? A push to raise prices and hit solar customers with expensive taxes. This has failed in state legislatures so utilities are turning to public utility commissions, where SELC does a lot of our work to ensure solar is widely available to customers and businesses.

Another tactic by utilities, the Post notes, has been to try to enlist the help of minority groups to argue solar hurts lower-income consumers – despite the fact that studies show that solar benefits all customers and groups like the NAACP have been loud champions for solar in our states.

While the Post sheds light on utilities’ intensive behind-the-scenes tactics, SELC Attorney Angela Navarro has the last word in the article: “It’s really about utilities’ fear that solar customers are taking away demand,” said Angela Navarro, an energy expert with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “These customers are installing solar at their own cost and providing a valuable resource: additional electricity for the grid at the times when the utilities need it most. And it’s all carbon-free.”