St. Louis, MO – With solar power on the rise around the country, a national network fossil fuel and utility-backed organizations have joined forces to put the brakes on this fast growing pollution-free energy resource. Trade groups and think tanks backed by deep pocketed anti-clean energy ideologues and fossil interests are bankrolling campaigns, promoting model legislation and media campaigns to provide cover for anti-solar campaigns across the country, said a new report released today by Environment Missouri Research & Policy Center.
The report comes as Environment America, the national affiliate of Environment Missouri, launches its “Stand Up for Solar” campaign to defend solar policies from utilities and fossil fuel groups pushing anti-solar agendas.
“Pollution-free solar energy represents one of Missouri’s most abundant energy resource” said Taylor Hale with Environment Missouri. “For our climate and our environment, we can’t allow special interest forces in the fossil fuel industry to pull the plug on the bright potential of solar power.”
The report, Blocking the Sun, documents 17 fossil fuel backed groups and electric utilities running some of the most aggressive campaigns to slow the growth of solar energy in 12 states.
In Missouri, renewable energy has faced many road-blocks. Prop C, a 2008 ballot initiative to increase usage of renewable energy annually until it reached 15 percent, passed with a 2/3 majority. Yet, regulated utilities fought against Prop C and a joint legislative panel tasked with reviewing state rules and regulations removed two important clauses when implementing the mandate in 2010, curbing renewable energy growth within Missouri. The Missouri Supreme court is currently ruling on whether the state lawmakers interfered unconstitutionally with the renewable energy mandate. Solar energy is being targeted in Missouri and all across the country.
The new report documents how the Koch brothers have provided funding to the national fight against solar by funneling tens of millions of dollars through a network of opaque nonprofits; the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provides utility and fossil fuel interests with access to state legislatures, and its anti-net metering policy resolution has inspired legislation in a set of states; utilities in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, West Virginia, California and Illinois have undertaken extensive campaigns to revoke renewable energy policy or impose new charges on their solar customers.
In mid-2016, there were at least 84 ongoing policy actions in U.S. states that could impact the growth of solar energy, including through limitations to net metering or new charges to make rooftop solar power less economically viable.
The report urges state decision makers to recognize and resist utility and fossil fuel industry influence that seeks to undermine solar energy and to instead encourage the growth of solar.
“Solar is finally catching on and providing tremendous benefits, reducing pollution, saving consumers and businesses money, and revitalizing local economies”, said Taylor Hale. “Now, more than ever, states must lead the charge on a transition to solar power and renewable energy.”
It is time for Missouri to embrace solar energy.
Environment Missouri is a statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.