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Solar flares up

The dark side of “free” electricity from the sun

It is amazing that something that seems as upbeat as “free” electricity from the sun can have such a dark side.

I started covering some of the shenanigans from the solar industry last summer when I wrote about the “Green Tea Party” in Georgia. I had no idea what a can of worms I’d opened. In September, I wrote about the net-metering battle taking place in Arizona—and pointed out the national implications of what was playing out there. The following month, I addressed, what I believe, is an organized effort by the industry, to co-opt the language of the free-market/conservative/limited-government thinking population in an effort to convince them that government-mandated and subsidized solar energy was a good thing. Last month I warned consumers of solar scams in a column I wrote titled “Clouds on the solar horizon.”

Along with researcher Christine Lakatos, I have spent months on an investigation into the cronyism, abuse, mismanagement, and violations involved in Abengoa Solar, the Spanish company that received $2.8 billion in taxpayer funding—most of it through the 2009 Stimulus Bill. The exposé was published earlier this week in the Daily Caller.

Within the past few weeks, I’ve been getting harassing phone calls from a solar supporter—so much so, that I’ve had to block his numbers.

I’ve even earned a mention in a Cleantechnica.com post on “How To Write A Hit Piece On The Solar Industry In 6 Steps.”

Apparently there is a perception that I am anti-solar, when in reality I wish I could afford solar panels on my roof because I could use some “free” electricity—but, what I am is strongly free-market. I despise government picking winners and losers. And, my green energy investigations have proven that solar is at the center of the corruption.

Now, I find out that a solar advocate and employee of SunRun—one of the solar leasing companies that Lakatos and I have covered as a part of our “Green-energy crony-corruption scandal”—has been trying to influence Wall Street analysts in an attempt to “damage investor confidence” in Arizona Public Service (APS). APS is the company at the forefront of changing current net-metering policies to avoid having to increase rates on the majority of consumers.

In an email to Rajeev Lalwani, an energy sector analyst with Morgan Stanley, SunRun Inc., public policy manager Kim Sanders attempts to influence Lalwani by saying: “I wanted to share a bit more info that indicates this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Do these people have no shame? Or, are they behaving like desperate cornered rats, because they fear the taxpayer-funded gravy train is about to hit the stop block.

In an April 10 letter to SunRun Chief Executive Edward Fenster, Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Chairman Bob Stump points out that Sanders’ efforts have “the potential to affect adversely millions of ratepayers in APS territory.” Stump points out that these ratepayers are the very people that the ACC is “charged to protect.”

Stump explains that this is because, negatively influencing the “judgment of Wall Street analysts” could “damage investor confidence in APS, undermine its capacity to borrow at reasonable rates, and damage the company’s shareholders, many of whom are Arizonans on fixed incomes and retirees.”

He likens the behavior of the “solar advocacy community” to “bulls in china shops” and concludes the letter stating that “such behavior” inflicts harm to “solar in Arizona.” Stump states: “Attempts to ‘disrupt the utility monopoly model,’ as one solar activist put it, should not entail damaging Arizona ratepayers.”

This shameful behavior addressed in Stumps’ letter, and engaged in, as revealed in my previous reporting, on the part of the “solar advocacy community” wouldn’t be needed if the industry could stand on its own in a true free market.

Both consumers and regulators need to be cautious when inviting in the wolf in sheep’s clothing that is the commercial solar industry.

 

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