OPINION – It’s getting easier to be green.
Finally, after years of research and development, outfitting your home with solar power is well within reach of the average household.
The benefits, of course, are plenty, from not only an environmental but financial standpoint.
But, the St. George City Council is looking to cut those benefits.
It believes that those who have gone green have removed some green from the city coffers; more specifically, from the municipal power providers. They argue that it is “inequitable” for those who have gone solar to continue receiving the incentives the council established to encourage them to do so.
In other words, the council is reneging on its original deal with residents.
Under terms of its original net metering policy, the city agreed to buy back any unused power generated by homeowners who have switched to solar power.
Instead of looking at this as a windfall and rewarding those residents, the council now plans to punish them because, well, if anybody’s going to make a buck off the power supply it should be the city, right?
The nation has faced an energy crisis – from fossil fuels to electricity supplies – for decades now. Advocates of solar and other alternative fuel and power generation have lobbied long and hard over the years for the government and big business to climb aboard, pointing out the environmental hazards of coal- and nuclear-powered plants. They were, however, always shut down with the admonition that it was too expensive.
This line of reasoning, of course, was always suspicious, with those on the green side of the debate insisting that those on the governmental side were being too heavily influenced by Big Oil, Corporate America, and the green they could stuff into their own bank accounts by owning and regulating municipal power companies.
It was, and remains, a lie that the switch to alternative fuels and power is too expensive and that not enough people are interested in it to make it work. If that were true, why are so many people who reside in one of the most conservative cities in the most conservative state in the Union going green?
They have learned that it helps the environment and saves them a few bucks, and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that the City Council now wants to remove these residents from some of those bucks, even if it means going back on its word.
It’s how it all works, you know.
In fact, I guarantee that when the council approved the incentives years ago it figured it would all look good on paper and had no concerns about loss of revenue at the power plant because, well, only those dirty, smelly, left-wing hippies would invest in a tree-hugger concept like alternative energy and there weren’t, and still aren’t, as a matter of fact, that many dirty, smelly left-wing hippies in St. George.
It turns out, however, that even the bright and shiny, well-coiffed conservatives with a little gray matter between their ears are realizing that, indeed, there is a better way to power their TVs, computers, and myriad other electrical devices than to burn coal dredged from the bowels of the Earth or play with the poison created by nuclear power plants. Plus, they can save a few bucks in the process.
But, the city wants to stick it to them, claiming that it is inequitable for those who remain permanently attached to the power grid to have to make up for the incentives paid to those who have turned to the sun for electricity.
You know what?
There should be an inequity at play here.
Those who are willing to invest in this planet deserve to reap a few benefits, while those who refuse to do so, either through ignorance or ideology, pay the price.
And, let’s be clear, ignorance and ideology loom large in all of this.
There was a post on social media the other day, claiming that the falling oil prices – translation: lesser gasoline costs – can actually do damage to the economy. Not because it helps lower the price of goods, which is a blessing for the already overly burdened poorer classes, but because the rich have invested so heavily, in one way or another, in Big Oil.
Basically, it was the latest political diatribe from the right, which for a few years now has been blaming President Obama for higher gasoline prices that resulted in higher cost for consumer items because everything you buy at one time or another takes a ride on a truck. Now, however they are blaming him for lower gasoline prices, which could put a dent in the pocketbook of the rich who have invested so heavily in Big Oil.
The thing is you cannot have it both ways.
This issue will almost assuredly be passed by the City Council, just as legislation will be approved at the state level to renege on the promises made to those who took the risk of investing in solar panels to power their homes, back before it was a cool thing to do and way before it was the financially practical thing to do. Our elected leaders are too deep in the pockets of special interests – from Big Oil to Big Pharma to the biggest “big” of them all, Big Banking – to ever do anything in the public’s interest that doesn’t line their own pockets.
They’ve got the money, they get to make the rules.
As odious and preposterous as this idea is, it isn’t unique to the St. George City Council.
I remember when Cedar City, through a series of bad water deals signed with the Washington County Water Conservancy District, found itself in a crunch.
The city wrote a strong ordinance and changed its fees, charging people who used more than their fair share of water a fairly high monthly fee.
As it turned out, the residents became very water efficient and many took to xeriscaping their properties.
Before long, water usage had dropped so dramatically that the council found itself in a quandary. Residents had taken the ordinance to heart so strongly that water department revenue dropped dramatically.
So, what happened?
The council passed another ordinance, hiking water prices to a level to make the department profitable again.
In other words, residents were penalized for doing the right thing.
Now, it appears, St. George residents will be punished for doing the right thing.
I’ll tell you what.
I don’t want to be anywhere near these guys when karma comes knocking on their doors.
I guarantee it will be rather messy, but it’s the price they’ll pay for sabotaging efforts to protect the environment and those who respect it.
- St. George City Council discusses new fee for solar power users
- City to discuss special event permitting process, net meter policy for solar power
- New EPA regulations could increase power rates for St. George residents
- Ivins City commemorates solar project completion
- Small vocal group protests at Dixie Power meeting
- Solar energy’s refreshing alternative in sunny Southern Utah
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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