A “Solar Bill of Rights”???

Michael Giberson

I guess this “Solar Bill of Rights” has been around for a while, but was recently mentioned in Photovoltaics World so I took a look. While the U.S. Bill of Rights is all about declaring what the government can’t do, the solar power industries “bill of rights” is mostly a call for the government to become more involved in the electric power industry in order to benefit the solar power industry.

Here are the eight items in my own words (and yes, I will be mostly mocking the the statements even though they have one good point, maybe one-and-a-half, buried among the self-serving demands):

1. Americans have the right to put solar panel on their homes even if they have contracted away that right to a neighborhood association. The government should break these contracts for a good cause like solar power.

2. Americans should face uniform grid interconnection standards, not varying state-by-state standards or utility-specific interconnection standards. The government should develop or promote a single standard and require its acceptance.

3. Americans have a right to “net metering,” i.e., if a person is selling power back to a utility for resale to another retail customer (a wholesale transaction, right?), that customer should be paid as if it were the utility and the utility was the retail customer! The government should make other utility customers absorb the extra expense when net metering makes a utility overpay for power. (Another way of putting this is that retail ratepayers with solar panels should be able to treat the “dirty energy” utility system as a no-cost loss-less solar energy storage system for any solar power generated in excess of the ratepayer’s instantaneous load.)

4. The solar power industry should be subsidized by tens of billions of dollars for decades on end because we’ve seen an estimate that says fossil fuels have been subsidized tens of billions of dollars for decades.  The solar power industry doesn’t have the political strength, and it isn’t yet capable of delivering comparable value, but it wants the government to force taxpayers to give the industry money, money, money!

5. The solar power industry should be able to build on public lands because fossil fuels are developed on public lands. That is to say, the government should not do separate evaluation of the costs and benefits of permitting solar power developments, it should just do for solar power whatever it has done for fossil fuels.

6. The solar industry has a right to sell its power over a new, 21st century transmission grid. <= Actual quote. I’m not sure where to being mocking this point. In their explanation they claim “what hasn’t changed are the rules crafted in an era of coal-fired power plants,” but this still leaves me puzzled. Coal-fired power plants have been around for over a century, and they are still around. Are we still in the “era of coal-fired power plants” so all rules must be crafted in this era?

7. Americans have the right to buy solar power from their utility. <= Another actual quote. I guess this right sort of complements #3’s Americans have the right to sell solar power to their utility.  But why “from their utility”? Why not get radical and allow solar power companies to build their own 21st century transmission grid and their own 21st century private distribution systems – why not cut out the utility/middle-man and let the solar power industry do it for itself?  I’m mean, sure, it will be harder to hide the full cost of solar power that way, but at least we’ll be sure that it is solar and not “dirty energy” being delivered to customers.

8. Americans have the right to – and should expect – the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry. <= Another direct quote. I guess I’m about mocked out, but this asserted right at least makes a demand on the solar power industry. (I wonder, how ethical is it to demand tens of billions of dollars in subsidies just because your “dirty energy” competition has been subsidized? Is this the highest possible ethical treatment of consumers, ratepayers, and taxpayers?)

That is it, the Solar Bill of Rights only has eight items. This fact struck me as odd at first, but  since people have mostly forgotten the ninth and tenth amendments (about rights retained by the people and powers reserved to the states), maybe eight is the new ten. Or maybe the solar power industry just ran out of ideas for using the government’s power to help protect and enlarge the solar power industry.

What’s next, a solar declaration of independence? (Sigh.)

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6 thoughts on “A “Solar Bill of Rights”???

  1. They forgot the rights to remain silent, cable TV, and to have your apartment painted every three years.

  2. When encountering such statements of “rights” I have found it useful to substitute words like expectation, or wish to get a clear picture of what the speaker or writer is advocating. Self interest is a powerful force.

  3. Solar disk with eight arms; union jack; ‘rock’ art……it’s a well known symbol and, thus, they probably scratched upp eight points for their manifesto to suit.

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