Op-Ed

Time is up for solar subsidies pushed by the elite, anti-coal activists

Tyler White
Tyler White

Over the past few weeks, the Kentucky Coal Association has monitored the movement of House Bill 227 to reform Kentucky’s net metering renewable energy subsidy. I am disappointed by the misinformation that seems to be plaguing the discussion of this bill.

Net metering is defined as, “a system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility.” This means that the grid, which is used by all of us, is only being maintained by some of us.

In other words, net metering is a renewable-energy subsidy.

Renewable-energy subsidies and policies to promote them have been long supported by liberal elites and the Obama administration. It was these anti-coal policies that were some of the main drivers behind the “war on coal.”

This is not to say the current net metering policy has impacted the coal industry, but the overall policy of subsidies for renewables, or as we call them “unreliables,” has had a severe impact on coal communities.

The groups that advocate against HB 227 are the same groups that have fought against coal and reliable energy for the last decades. If known environmental activists and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth are supporting a particular energy policy, you can best believe it is not in the best interest of coal or energy policy for the manufacturing economy.

The “war on coal” was financed by billionaire ideologues like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, George Soros and the Energy Foundation to prop up their investment portfolios, along with radical environmental groups such as the NRDC and the Sierra Club and their minions like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Kentucky’s two largest newspapers.

Embedded throughout the Obama administration, these anti-energy elites used executive orders and illegal regulations to punish the coal industry and coal-burning utilities, while massively promoting and even loaning billions of dollars (in many cases, tax dollars) to prop up investments in unreliable renewable energy companies like Solyndra and SolarCity.

Let’s examine some of the facts about unreliable energy sources:

▪ Solar provides less than 2 percent of the world’s energy — and only because fossil fuels remain available to compensate for its unreliability.

▪ Germany has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on solar and wind, yet they provide only 3 percent of its total energy, according to a German non-profit that analyses domestic energy use. The average German pays three times more for electricity than the average American.

▪ The places that use “unreliables” the most have energy prices that are the highest, according to analysis published in the European Science Review.

▪ Solar and wind cannot work on their own since their inputs are intermittent.

There are fewer than 1,000 private net metered customers in Kentucky out of more than 2.2 million utility customers (not counting those served by Tennessee Valley Authority. Nearly half of them are located in Lexington and Louisville.

While those customers will be grandfathered under the old rules, any future net-metered solar growth without HB 227 will only increasingly shift costs onto all other customers, regardless of whether they can afford it.

The Kentucky Coal Association stands for affordable energy for all Kentuckians and against subsidies and government mandates that increase costs for all. It adamantly fought Kentucky Power and its irresponsible decision to close down Big Sandy, and has opposed the multiple rate increases for some of the most impoverished areas in our state due to unnecessary environmental costs and the loss of customers.

Supporting HB 227 is a vote to make sure the people of Eastern Kentucky are not paying more on their utility bills to fund the growth of private solar for the wealthy in Lexington and Louisville.

Reach Tyler White, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, at twhite@kentuckycoal.com

At issue: Commentary by Steve Wilkins of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, “Electric utilities pushing legislature to crush rooftop solar in Kentucky”

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