Solar groups seek Tea Party backing as utilities want to trim payments to homeowners

Adobe Photoshop PDFBy Russell Gold | The Wall Street Journal

As the solar-power industry skirmishes with utilities over the growth of the home solar-panel business, it is enlisting a new political ally: tea-party activists and conservative groups.

Renewable-energy firms have traditionally sought help from the political left by touting the environmental benefits of greener power. But as the industry grows in states with heavily Republican populations, such as Arizona and Georgia, it is trying to broaden its base of support by framing the dispute on solar reimbursement rates as one of free markets and greater consumer choice.

Whether the tactic works will be seen in coming months, as Arizona and Georgia weigh regulatory changes for rooftop solar installations. Arizona could lower what utilities pay residential customers for excess power generated by solar panels, while Georgia could set requirements to promote solar.

In Arizona, where the solar industry and the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, are battling, a statewide trade group representing home solar-installation companies has launched a group called Tusk—Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed—headed by Barry Goldwater Jr., the son of the late conservative icon. It uses an elephant as its logo, much like the GOP, and has turned up political pressure on the elected state panel that sets energy policy.


Also: Why Aren’t There More Solar Plants In The Desert?

Report: Solar And Wind Power To Boost Grid Energy Storage Capacity


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