Goldwater says “you could almost call it a conspiracy” the way utilities are trying to recoup costs from customers who generate their own solar power, avoiding what utilities claim are subsidies by all other ratepayers to maintain the grid.
For example, a proposal in Michigan would eliminate net metering and replace it with a system that forces solar customers to buy electricity from the utility at retail rates, and be reimbursed at much lower wholesale prices. Utilities are pushing similar policies around the country.
But increasingly, Republicans and other conservatives are joining environmentalists and clean energy advocates in defending solar-friendly policies.
Goldwater sees a split within the Republican Party among libertarian-leaning lawmakers touting the benefits of solar versus those who support an outdated, monopoly utility model.
“The future is here and Republicans need to get in front and get their feet out of the dirt,” he says.
One of the great arguments former Congressman Goldwater advances:
Q: Proponents of the Michigan net metering proposal say it is about creating fairness among all ratepayers and ending subsidies from one group to another. What’s your response?
A: That is their classic argument. It doesn’t hold water. I spent a lot of money treating my house [with energy efficiency]. As a result, my electric bill went down. Consequently, those people who don’t do the same are subsidizing my electric bill. They are making the same claim for solar energy. It’s a phony issue and doesn’t hold water.