The quest for individual energy independence has increased as utility rates have risen due to the environmental policies of the Obama Administration. If the Obama Administration continues its war on coal, we can expect electricity rates to go even higher. As that happen, people are looking for ways to generate their own electricity and cut their utility bills. Well, not so fast.
Think Progress, a progressive organization, posted an article yesterday reporting that Oklahoma will be charging consumers who provide their own energy through solar panels or windmills an additional fee (read “tax”).
The article reports:
On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.
“We knew nothing about it and all of a sudden it’s attached to some other bill,” Ctaci Gary, owner of Sun City Oklahoma, told ThinkProgress. “It just appeared out of nowhere.”
The article further reported:
The bill was staunchly opposed by renewable energy advocates, environmental groups and the conservative group TUSK, but had the support of Oklahoma’s major utilities. “Representatives of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma said the surcharge is needed to recover some of the infrastructure costs to send excess electricity safely from distributed generation back to the grid,” the Oklahoman reported.
Adding the surcharge is not smart. The advantage of people adding individual solar panels or windmills to their homes is that the panels can generate electricity during peak use times and prevent utility companies from having problems meeting the demand at those times. Obviously, the surcharge will discourage people from adding either panels or windmills. I suspect that a single small windmill does not create some of the problems that a large wind farm causes.
Allowing people who choose to add alternative power to their homes should not be a political issue. If the addition conforms to community standards, the use of alternative energy should be welcomed. If the utility companies have become so powerful that they can prevent the individual from becoming energy independent, it is time to elect people to government that will stand up against those companies. I don’t want to deny anyone a profit, but I also don’t want to see people denied the opportunity to become energy independent.
Sometimes conservation measures are not welcomed by bureaucrats. In the small town we used to live in, residents were asked to conserve water. After we had done our best to do that, the residents were told that because we were using less water, the Water Department was forced to raise the water rate to cover expenses. Simply speaking, that is not fair.