Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Republicans for Green Energy

Interesting article on Bloomberg today about one part of the Republican coalition that advocates for solar energy. The "Green Tea Party" wants people to be able to free themselves from dependence on large power companies, and they support people's rights to allow third parties to install rooftop solar on their homes in exchange for a share of energy sold to the local utility. (The rights had been blocked by laws in Georgia and North Carolina in part to protect the power companies from being forced to buy energy they say they don't need from these third party providers.) Some choice quotes:

Utilities “don’t like the competition,” said Barry Goldwater Jr., son of the late senator and presidential candidate. “I’m a conservative Republican and I think people should have a choice.”

[On the other hand,] “We’ve had disagreements over solar,” said Virginia Galloway, director of Americans for Prosperity’s chapter in Georgia. [Americans for Prosperity is a group founded by the Koch brothers that often supports Tea Party causes.] Coal and gas both can generate electricity cheaper than solar, and requiring utilities to buy it will boost costs. “We oppose any mandates that would raise utility rates.”

Solar panel prices have fallen 59 percent since the start of 2011 to about 83 cents a watt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That means solar power costs an average $143 a megawatt-hour worldwide now, down from $236 in the first quarter of 2011, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Nuclear costs about $101 and natural gas $70, by comparison.

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