Obama Comes to TUSK’s Rescue in Arizona Solar Fight

| August 23 2013
AZ News

TUSK Organizing for Action

The liberal groups hiding behind TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t be Killed) have been unmasked. Those fighting progress on APS’s policy on solar subsidies, known as net metering, are not the conservatives TUSK Spokesman Barry Goldwater, Jr. would like you to believe. In reality, they are liberal, California-based solar companies with strong ties to the Obama Administration.  They have already received millions of dollars in government stimulus grants and sweetheart contracts.  They know their businesses rely on handouts to survive, so they want to keep the current, unfair subsidies in place.

Recently, a TUSK offshoot calling itself “TASC” (The Alliance for Solar Choice) began running commercials in the Phoenix area accusing APS of trying to “kill” Arizona solar and “tax the sun.” TASC is funded by four companies: Verengo, Sungevity, SunRun and SolarCity. These same companies, Obama’s new Solyndras, are funding TUSK’s efforts.

Yesterday, TUSK’s liberal alliances were exposed beyond a shadow of a doubt when Organizing for Action (formerly known as Obama for America), a non-profit working to support Obama’s radical agenda, came out in support of TUSK’s net metering stance. OFA has previously pushed other liberal policies, like gun control and climate change legislation, throughout the U.S.

OFA is encouraging people to contact the Arizona Corporation Commission and “fight for clean energy” by supporting the current net metering policies that force APS to pay solar customers more than three times the fair market rate for the excess energy they send back to the grid. That cost is passed on to non-solar customers, forcing them to subsidize the energy costs of customers with solar panels. Additionally, solar customers, who rely on the electric grid when the sun isn’t shining, do not pay for their use of the grid – another cost that gets passed on to non-solar customers.

Last July, USA Today published a story about OFA’s role in aggressively pushing costly climate change policies across the country. The article questioned the appropriateness of an organization so closely linked to a sitting president weighing in on these issues.

“You can say that developing clean energy is great, but do competitors feel the weight of the presidency being used to undermine their business model?” she said. “It raises questions about the ethical propriety of the use of the president’s bully pulpit.”

As USA Today pointed out, OFA’s energy activism comes at a time when the president is pursuing a backdoor plan to circumvent Congress and use his executive powers to impose new limits on carbon-dioxide emissions.  When Congress failed to pass cap and trade legislation in 2009, President Obama famously remarked that there was “more than one way to skin a cat.” We all knew what he meant – he wants to bypass Congress and use the regulatory process to subvert the constitution. It appears the president has expanded the playing field, and is now engaging in regulatory battles across the country – including right here in Arizona.

Don’t be fooled by groups that wrap themselves in conservative imagery and famous conservative names. President Obama, TUSK, and their liberal agenda are here in Arizona fighting to protect the unfair, anti-free-market net-metering policies.

Arizona conservatives and the Arizona Corporation Commission have a chance to stand up the president and his liberal allies by making net metering fair for all Arizonans, not just the ones who can afford costly solar panels.  That’s what the free market dictates, and what a true conservative would support.

 

27 comments
desert rat
desert rat

With all the back and forth blah, blah, blah, blah, blah being thrown around about solar and the confusion it creates, I'm just glad that so many people are taking it in their own hands to move toward solar and not let the hype throw them off what's really important: a new, cleaner, healther future for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all others on this planet we share.  Thank you!!

lpfisher88
lpfisher88

Let's cut through the political bull here. A solar system is at maximum production at the same times of day as when APS charges its highest rate. Therefore APS receives free energy from home solar system owner, and then sells it for a profit This is usually called "something for nothing" and APS is still complaining about providing credits for the power . They are even then using a  KwH rate system "slight of hand" to keep the credits as minimal as possibly, and now we hear that they want it all. There is no earthly reason why a rooftop solar owner should give APS free power for them to sell at a profit and then get nothing back! I am not part of TUSK or the APS advocacy group since both sides are running deceptive ads, I don't need the deceptive ads to see this is about corporate greed.

Wake up and smell the coffee here people!!!

Larry


christy morrison
christy morrison

I am not a 'conservative' but I support the free market and just payment across the board for use of utilities by citizens.  Please don't assume that this is all partisan.  You prevent all those who are truly for this to be able to hear the message when you assume it is only fitting for a particular group.

dillonhh
dillonhh

This is among the most ridiculous junk I have ever read. Every sentence is more smothered in blatant lies than the one preceding it. Whatever anonymous person wrote this trash should be totally ashamed. This has nothing to do with liberalism and is instead one of the most bipartisan topics out there. And to correct you as a true conservative supporting a free market, you should really take a look at the facts. Conventional power is just as subsidized as solar power except instead of the savings being placed in the hands of the people, it is placed in the hands of a publicly traded legal monopoly answering to its shareholders. You need to check yourself, get hold of some facts, and come up with your own honest opinions.

A true conservative opposes monopoly in favor of competition. A true conservative believes in cleaning the air we breath today in order to avoid government intervention tomorrow. A true conservative believes in planning for the future rather than waiting for someone to make us change. A true conservative believes in setting an American precedent for the world to follow.

You're no true conservative. A true conservative would never post anonymously as a talking head for a monopoly whose only plan is to snuff out their first experience with legitimate competition.

RandStrawKY
RandStrawKY

Uh oh! 

If THIS is true, it's a game changer! Anything the Obama administration meddles with, I want no part of! 

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

@lpfisher88

Good comment Larry -- I've been on both sides of this issue having worked long ago for a regulated monopoly (ATT) and in later years for competitive industry companies (Motorola & Intel).   

I also own a solar PV system that has worked very well for over 4 years.  I've heard & seen the APS ads, and I *do* find them deceptive and misleading.  I have the bills to prove it.  I don't get "paid" for surplus energy at anywhere near the rate they imply.

I'll be writing an article on this subject for this site ... I've been able to take a deeper look, and it is a mixed bag.  

As a taxpayer, I don't like serving as involuntary "angel investor" for high-tech ventures, but I also don't like regulated monopolies that have no incentive to keep their costs & prices down.  In fact regulated monopolies actually make *more* revenue when their costs increase because they get a guaranteed rate of return on their costs. 

I'm more comfortable with corporate greed than you (evidently) are so long as there is true competition.  APS, so far, has had no competition on the old theory that they're a "natural monopoly".  Residential solar may change that.  I can see why that might be upsetting to a regulated monopoly -- I've been through it before.

GaryThomson13
GaryThomson13

@christy morrison Christy, I believe the article is speaking to conservatives because the advertisement put forward by TUSK is targeted at conservatives in an attempt to make them feel that this is a conservative issue to get behind.  I agree with you that it is a non-partisan issue and by subsidizing some, others are hurt (because someone has to pay their costs).  In my case, because of the orientation and the construction of my roof, I would get little benefit from solar panels.  My backdoor neighbor on the other hand has the whole of his south facing roof covered by solar panels.  I'm happy for him that he can use the panels, i just don't want to subsidize his use of them.  That should be a financial decision he makes solely on the merits of his house, his rate, his finances, his return on the investment.  If my neighbor is getting free electricity from the grid on those days when it is too overcast and raining, then I'm really upset.  And when you think about it for a minute, he is getting subsidized all of the time because APS must have the potential energy available for those times he will need it and that costs money every second of every day.  In general, subsidies of any kind are wrong for they warp the market and when subsidies run out or there is a political change and they are no longer supported, the market reverts much more violently then if it were allowed to work naturally and more gradually.  That has been shown time and again.

baseballmaven
baseballmaven

@dillonhh Not sure who your rant is aimed at, but I'm assuming it's me. I am not going to name call, as you do (talk about being 'fact free,' your email is 100% fact free. Calm down.

Yes, energy is a bipartisan issue, true, but your rant is about as partisan as it could be. The issue here are not whether government will provide tax breaks for energy alternate energy production (as it does to the 'standard' fuels). I believe these are the "subsidies" to which you refer.  I have no problem with that, actually--however, that's not the same as propping up an energy source that is not ready for prime time and cannot be commercially produced.  If you look at the facts on energy policy under Obama, you would see that not even ONE of the companies he's bailed out with our tax dollars has BEEN competitive in ANY Way.  

My issue here is whether Obama has committed an illegal act as president by:

1. continuing to be behind a partisan policy group, having morphed his own campaign arm into a PAC

2. his continual overreach of power, and his assuming an air of dictatorship bypassing the checks and balances that are inherent and REQUIRED by our Constitution.

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

@RandStrawKY Obama meddles in things like this (and local Cambridge Police matters, e.g.) because he is too small and incompetent to do the actual work that presidents are supposed to do.

dillonhh
dillonhh

@baseballmaven @dillonhh No, my comment was not in reply to yours. It was in reply to the op-ed itself. The issue happening in AZ has nothing to do with the federal government or the president. It's an issue brought on strictly by Arizona's largest power supplier and monopoly and only exists because they are losing money to solar, which apparently in their eyes has definitely become commercially viable and extremely competitive.

christy morrison
christy morrison

@baseballmaven @dillonhh But by focusing on that, we miss that the issue with solar power is NOT partisan...and it keeps the facts from being put out there for everyone.  We can think!  We don't need to be told if it's 'our team' or 'theirs' when dealing with issues...just the issues and the facts...  and in this case, we really need to stand up for the free market when it is really affecting each and every person (as opposed to when 'free market' is used to keep those dominating economic markets in control of them by limiting regulation)

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

@dillonhhI was singling out one aspect of your comments—" I too would be interested in a world without subsidies"—for a specific reply. That it an area of specific interest for me personally, so it was natural for me to single that out.

dillonhh
dillonhh

That's all well and good but kind of a subject change/dodge in my opinion. If you want to answer everything that generally then there would be no point in specific stories at all.

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

@dillonhh @baseballmaven @PhillyCheesesteakBlunt  

How about a world where no individual, cohort, or entity ever receives special treatment at the expense of any other individual, cohort, or entity? Ever. For any reason.How about a world where all businesses compete on a completely level playing field, playing by a simple set of knowable rules, applicable to all, where none of them ever get to lobby for regulations that harm their competitors while benefiting them?

dillonhh
dillonhh

@PhillyCheesesteakBlunt @baseballmaven Well my last post was directed to anyone willing to chime in because I would really like to know how you feel about this. Even if solar had a 25 year warranty and took nearly as long to pay for itself, wouldn't that still be preferable to renting power and building an asset portfolio for others of which we own 0% in the end? In AZ, APS gets a guaranteed 10% rate of return and rate payers pay for all of their investments. Unlike most companies their balance sheets grow with no risk or real investment. Is there not something wrong with this? To me, that sounds a lot like a hand-out.

Here is my post again:

Well I would have no problem with less government intervention but this monopoly issue needs to be addressed. We the ratepayers are paying for all of their assets and asset improvements and end up with nothing to show for it. At least with solar we are no longer renting our energy at the benefit of someone else. With solar (or any future unknown at-home power generation technology) we pay for power but own the asset after it's all said and done. Wouldn't you all agree this is preferable?

dillonhh
dillonhh

@baseballmaven @dillonhh Well I would have no problem with less government intervention but this monopoly issue needs to be addressed. We the ratepayers are paying for all of their assets and asset improvements and end up with nothing to show for it. At least with solar we are no longer renting our energy at the benefit of someone else. With solar (or any future unknown at-home power generation technology) we pay for power but own the asset after it's all said and done. Wouldn't you all agree this is preferable?

dillonhh
dillonhh

Without having fully researched it, I too would be interested in a world without subsidies as long as it results in companies paying the true cost of energy.

I think the AZ utility monopoly has successfully brainwashed a lot of people into believing that net metering is actually costing non-solar customers money. Both sides need to get together and discover the truth. I'm more suspect that our monopoly is just realizing that a homeowner generating their own power is going lose them a lot of revenue that they want back.

PhillyCheesesteakBlunt
PhillyCheesesteakBlunt

@dillonhh @baseballmaven  How can you say it has nothing to do with the president or the federal government when the president's non-profit is engaging in the fight here in AZ? How can you say it has nothing to do with the federal government when my (our) tax dollars have propped these solar installation companies up with millions - possibly billions of stimulus dollars and overpriced govt contracts?

These companies wouldn't be able to survive without generous handouts from the feds and ratepayer cost shifting schemes like net metering. Build and install all the solar you want -- just don't make me pay for it.

And I know you will argue that oil / gas is subsidized by the govt as well...I would agree that we should stop ANY subsidies for any energy company. However, I would also note that oil / gas companies pay among the highest (most) amount of taxes of any corporation in our country and they have one of highest if not the worst taxes to profit ratios of any corporation - period. This is not an apples to apples comparison.

In fact, Obama has called for additional taxes on oil and gas in order to set aside money for segregated accounts that will fund additional green energy projects and development.  How can anyone call that conservative?

Maybe this op-ed takes a dramatic tone, but the piece is spot on in terms of connecting the dots. What's going on in AZ, or CA, or any other state debating net metering, is directly related to the policies that President Obama has given us since he took office.  Net metering is a light version of cap & trade.