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Solar Deception

Solar Deception
Posted: July 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm   /   by   /   comments (10)

You may have heard the spin coming from TUSKS’s California solar companies that are trying to convince Arizonans to subsidize their wealthy customers through a process known as “net metering.” What did they leave out of their talking points? – That they’re under federal investigation for defrauding taxpayers.

The federal government is investigating TUSK superstars SolarCity and SunRun, for submitting falsified applications in order to get more of your tax dollars. Government officials said this lead to “improperly lucrative” subsidies. Why would these companies stoop so low? Because, despite massive subsidies and not paying taxes or abiding by regulations, they are still losing money – lots of money. One solar industry insider said this could be “the biggest scam in the U.S. today.”  Solar Industry Magazine commented:

The incidence of questionable accounting practices – such as ITC fraud, basis inflation for Treasury 1603 grants, and leases with excessive escalation rates – has quietly been common knowledge in the industry, but at a time when solar’s image is already under attack, these ethical violations will soon be exposed to the public.

These ethical violations are starting to get noticed, so the rooftop solar industry has resorted to “straw man arguments,” claiming APS wants to “kill solar” and “tax the sun.”  The reality is that these rooftop solar companies are so heavily dependent upon the current subsidy and rebate system, that they are willing to mischaracterize current net metering reform proposals to protect their business model. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SolarCity admitted:

“Our business currently depends on the availability of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives. The expiration, elimination or reduction of these rebates, credits and incentives would adversely impact our business.”

That’s not all – one of the companies funding these ads was sued by a competitor for stealing confidential information and committing corporate espionage to gain access to sensitive customer data.  And they run ads saying they support the free market? Does it sound like they believe in fairness and competition to you?

There’s a reason countries like Germany are ending their solar subsidies – they’re bankrupting them. Germany recently announced they are pulling the plug on all solar subsidies by 2018, having already dramatically reduced subsidy programs for the faltering industry last year.

Big solar is worried that’ll happen here.  Let’s remind big solar that supporting the free market means playing by the rules, not falsifying government contacts and relying on unethical cronyism.

Comments (10)

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  • July 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm RandStrawKY

    Solar subsidies are a ploy! Get out of our pockets!

    Reply
    • July 31, 2013 at 3:48 am WesternFreePress

      RandStrawKY All subsidies are illegitimate. Taking money from anyone or any entity for the exclusive use of any other person or entity is a violation of something very fundamental. And yet we do it all the time.

      Reply
  • July 31, 2013 at 11:04 am Smart Solar

    How much is APS paying you to shill for them.

    Reply
    • July 31, 2013 at 11:35 am PMason

      @Smart Solar Interesting deflection. I have a question. Can you (or anyone else for that matter) refute the claims in this article? I realize we are all biased to one degree or another, but I clicked on most of the links. Hell, solar city made the comments cited above in their own SEC filings. Am I missing something?

      Reply
      • July 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm WesternFreePress

        @PMason We too would be interested in hearing an answer to this.

        Reply
  • August 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm Not_A_Shill

    You may have heard the spin coming from TUSKS’s California solar
    companies that are trying to convince Arizonans to subsidize their wealthy
    customers through a process known as “net metering.” What did they leave out of
    their talking points? – That they’re under federal investigation for defrauding
    taxpayers.
    Wrong.TUSK is an Arizona effort…not a California
    effort.Wealthy customers?Get real.Solar is affordable to all incomes, even low income families.Ever heard of the HERO program?Guess not.This is the reason solar companies get help from the Federal
    Government.That money is used to bring
    solar energy to everyone.Stop using
    scare tactics like your handlers at APS.
    The federal government is investigating TUSK superstars SolarCity and
    SunRun, for submitting falsified applications in order to get more of your tax
    dollars.
    Actually, the Federal Government’s
    investigation started at the same time SolarCity found that had been underpaid
    millions of dollars by the government.The government’s response?Launch
    an investigation.
    They know that the investigation
    will go nowhere.However, the government
    DOES know that investigations like these…trumpeted by APS shills like you…will
    hurt their business.
    Government officials said this lead to “improperly lucrative”
    subsidies. Why would these companies stoop so low? Because, despite massive
    subsidies and not paying taxes or abiding by regulations, they are still losing
    money – lots of money. One solar industry insider said this could behttp://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.11146  http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.11146
    The incidence of questionable accounting practices – such as ITC fraud,
    basis inflation for Treasury 1603 grants, and leases with excessive escalation
    rates – has quietly been common knowledge in the industry, but at a time when
    solar’s image is already under attack, these ethical violations will soon be
    exposed to the public.
    Really?Quoting out of
    context from an article posted late last year?Couldn’t find any current news?Okay, let’s dig a little deeper into this article.
    “With blunt realism, Monday’s opening session kicked off Solar
    Power International 2012 (SPI) in Orlando, Fla., with warnings of
    billion-dollar anti-solar political ads, presidential-election uncertainty,
    uncooperative utilities bent on undoing net-metering law, and even fraud within
    the solar sector itself.”
    Sounds a lot like shills like you.Let’s go further.
    “Our industry is under direct attack,” Resch plainly
    stated. He noted that super-PACs funded by fossil-fuel industries have created
    an unprecedented volume of campaign ads slamming solar energy. In fact, 80% of
    the negative campaign ads so far have focused on clean energy, according to
    Resch.
    Existing net-metering policy has helped support a number of PV
    installations. However, utility-led efforts to roll back or limit these
    policies will continue to pop up. Net metering, ultimately, will not be
    sustainable as a solar-utility business model once penetration levels reach a
    certain point, Hamm added.
    “Isn’t it in the best interest of everyone to invest the time and effort
    today to develop a regulatory structure that allows for long-term solar-utility
    business model?” she asked.
    There’s a reason countries like Germany are ending their solar
    subsidies – they’re bankrupting them. Germany recently announced they are http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/breaking-news/germany-to-pull-plug-on-solar-subsidies/story-fni0xqe4-1226676305151, having already dramatically
    reduced subsidy programs for the faltering industry last year.  
    Of course, you conveniently
    forgot to mention that you’re comparing apples to oranges.Germany, a largely agrarian culture, had the
    vast majority of their FARMERS soaking up their subsidies.On the other hand, America’s solar is mostly
    residential and commercial.Let’s see
    what else the article you cited has to say.
    “Germany has seen a wave of solar company
    insolvencies and the number of people employed in the industry fell to 87,000
    in 2012 from 110,900 a year earlier, while sales plummeted by 11.9 billion
    euros, according to government figures.”
    “Solar panels are at the heart of a current
    trade spat between China and the European Union, which accuses the Chinese of
    selling its solar panels below cost.”
    Let’s remind big solar that supporting the free market means playing by
    the rules, not falsifying government contacts and relying on unethical
    cronyism.
    Of course, you forgot to say
    that none of this has been proven.All
    in all, you have presented a very amateurish attack on solar by relying on fear
    tactics, old citations that are no longer relevant, issues related only to the
    EU (last I heard we were no longer a European colony) and fabrications.
    Better luck next time.

    Reply
    • August 4, 2013 at 7:24 pm YouSureAboutThat

      Not_A_Shill — here’s something funny. I had never heard of TUSK until reading this story. You wrote: “Wrong.TUSK is an Arizona effort…not a California effort.”

      Yet, if you visit their FB page right now, the most recent post, found here: https://www.facebook.com/Dont.Kill.Solar/posts/159084464281996 
      If you look at the post, it looks like someone forgot to turn the location settings off, because it clearly states that the person who posted on TUSKs wall was located “near San Francisco, CA.”
      HAHAHAHA. Right there, on their own page, there is proof that CA interests are controlling TUSK.  
      Your first point was just completely rebuffed. How can I take anything else you claim seriously?
      Nice try, tool.

      Reply
      • August 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm Not_A_Shill

        @YouSureAboutThat Not_A_Shill  
        TUSK is run by Jason Rose in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Can I help it if someone posts from California?  That’s like saying you aren’t an American because someone posted on your Facebook wall from Russia.
        Get a clue…or at least a working knowledge of how FB operates.

        Reply
        • August 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm YouSureAboutThat

          No, it’s not like that all. Under your scenario, it would be no big deal if someone commented on a post who happened to not live in Arizona (or Russia, as you say). I’ll give you that.
          But what the link above proves is that someone has access to the TUSK Facebook admin that lives near San Francisco. By the way, I Googled “SolarCity headquarters.” Guess who is based in San Mateo in the San Francisco bay area? If you guessed “SolarCity”, you win.
          Speaking of which, I find it odd that you use the wording “can I help it..” Do you work for TUSK? Do you work for Solar City? Just curious.
          You specifically stated this was not a CA effort. Not me. You. The link I provided above would seem to prove that TUSK is in fact a California led effort that uses local proxies on the ground to do their bidding. In this case, I guess it’s Jason Rose as you state above. 
          Or maybe TUSK just gives access to anyone, allowing them to post at their own free will? 
          And while we’re at it. You’re chronology is wrong. The federal government began investigating SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity for defrauding taxpayers and inflating their rates back in 2012. Then, SolarCity sued the US Govt this year. Not the other way around. SolarCity is actually suing the feds because they want MORE taxpayer money. That took 15 seconds on Google.
          And why did the Feds open an investigation in the first place? Because companies like SolarCity were ~allegedly~ inflating the costs of their systems. 
          This is from Friday’s Republic: 

          “The Arizona Republicconducted its own analysis of SolarCity projects and found
          that in 2011, SolarCity’s nearly 900 projects in APS and SRP territories had an
          average cost per watt of $7.96.
          That is about 18 percent higher than the average
          cost per watt of all other companies operating in those territories, which
          averaged $6.74 in 2011.
          Prices for solar panels
          fell across the country in 2012, but SolarCity still had more expensive arrays
          than its competitors in Arizona. The average price for the company’s projects
          in APS and SRP territories that year was $5.72, compared with $4.79 for its
          competitors, a difference of 19 percent, according toThe Republicanalysis.”

          Reply
        • August 6, 2013 at 5:44 am WesternFreePress

          @YouSureAboutThat Not_A_Shill  
          That’s gonna leave a mark.
          And let us not forget, once again, that this whole thing involves taking taxpayer money for things that don’t benefit those taxpayers. That is never right, ever.

          Reply