WASHINGTON, DC – Dozens of groups from around the country signed onto a letter that warns a research project launched by the Department of Energy (DOE) might be the first step in curtailing highly successful solar energy policies.
The letter from Food & Water Watch warns that the parameters of the study could be used to undercut net metering. The group has already generated over 20,000 comments to the DOE.
Last month, the Energy Department posted a request for information for a proposed study of solar net metering policies. Clean energy advocates point to net metering as one of the most successful tools for promoting the growth of the solar power industry, since it enables owners to sell excess power to utility companies.
But the DOE makes clear in its request that it intends to exclude analysis of the “costs and benefits of distributed solar generation” overall. The study will not include "indirect cost/benefits" of solar power—which could mean that broad societal benefits, such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or improved air quality, would be considered outside the scope of the Energy Department’s analysis.
“The Trump administration will keep finding new ways to serve the interests of fossil fuel corporations, and we must summon the power to stop them,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Crafting a bogus study in order to undercut net metering is simply a stealth attack on solar power. If the White House gets away with it, this will harm people’s ability to choose renewable energy sources, and slow the growth of an industry where job creation is far outpacing the fossil fuel business.”
Net metering policies have been targeted at the state level by fossil fuel companies and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed advocacy group linked to the Koch Brothers. In several of the states where they have been successful, the expansion of solar power has stalled, costing local jobs and economic growth in the process.