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Power The Almighty Buck Politics Science

The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy 769

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 'The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.' For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes (video) by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. 'Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford,' the narrator says. 'That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading,' concludes the editorial. 'This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.'"
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The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy

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  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mellon ( 7048 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:15AM (#46857629) Homepage

    Actually, the real worry is the $20 trillion in stranded assets that the oil companies stand to lose if solar gets cheaper than carbon fuels quickly enough. So it's crucial that they keep their subsidies and prevent anyone else from growing through subsidies. This is a very real problem—it's not just some rich people being assholes, but rather some rich people who stand to become substantially less rich if things go the way they seem to be going.

  • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:24AM (#46857677)
    They are not against energy subsidies, they are against renewable, and in particular solar, subsidies. They love their own subsidies, which means the title is very correct.
  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:59AM (#46857903)

    Actually what is happening in Germany is a not an entirely rosy picture for the renewables industry. Their energy prices have been spiking, while simultaneously CO2 emissions have been increasing as a consequence of their new policies.

    As evidence of the uncomfortable position that German is now in, their Vice Chancellor is reported to have said :

    “The truth is that the Energy U-Turn (“Energiewende”, the German scheme aimed at pushing the “renewable” share of electricity production to 80 % by 2050) is about to fail”
    “The truth is that under all aspects, we have underestimated the complexity of the “Energiewende”
    “The noble aspiration of a decentralized energy supply, of self-sufficiency! This is of course utter madness”
    “Anyway, most other countries in Europe think we are crazy”

    Unfortunately my German is too rusty to confirm this for myself, but here's the video feed if anyone is interested in seeing it: []

  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:2, Informative)

    by deadweight ( 681827 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:11AM (#46858007)
    It may be very good for the planet, but the miners that now have no jobs, have cars being repossesed, houses in foreclosure, and kids no longer able to go to college are not likely to be cheering you on. Hint: coal miners are not slaves. They WANT their jobs ;)
  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:5, Informative)

    by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:12AM (#46858013)

    Unless the U.S. starts, pretty damned soon, to find an alternative to fossil fuels, it's economy is in for a beating, the likes of which few have scarcely imagined.

    Since our economy is far less dependent on heavy manufacturing than it used to be, we're not in nearly as much trouble as other nations. Seen any satellite views of China recently?

  • by Shoden ( 94398 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:17AM (#46858069)

    and they do not get retail prices, they get wholesale prices

    That depends on where you're located. In some places you only get wholesale, in others you get paid retail, and in some you can even get more than retail (TVA pays retail + $0.04/kWh for solar for the first 10 years after a system is installed: []).

    In addition, how you get paid also varies. Some places only allow you to offset your usage with what you generate for that current billing cycle. Other let you build up credits that can be used to offset your usage for a greater period of time, and others will actually pay you for your excess power.

    I happen to live in an area that pays retail and lets you save credits for 12 months to offset your usage.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:50AM (#46858407)

    Since our economy is far less dependent on heavy manufacturing than it used to be, we're not in nearly as much trouble as other nations.

    As a percentage of they overall economy yes but in absolute size the US manufacturing sector is enormous. Depending on how you measure it the US manufactures $2-4 Trillion in goods each year which is roughly the size of the entire GDP of Russia. The only country with a manufacturing sector even close to that in size is China. The "death" of manufacturing in the US has been greatly exaggerated. Manufacturing is a large and vital portion of the US economy and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @10:13AM (#46858687)

    gotta love conspiracy theorist.

    but as long as it's a left wing conspiracy it's okay.

    Do you really not perceive that the US military and intelligence agencies are used to make the world safe for American business? Why did the CIA overthrow the Guatemalan government in 1954? Why did they overthrow the Iranian government a year earlier? Do you still think we invaded Iraq because Saddam was such an asshole and we just felt so bad for those poor Iraqis?

    It's not a conspiracy theory, it's how the world works. Get your head out of your ass.

  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mellon ( 7048 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @11:08AM (#46859401) Homepage

    There's no reason to think Solyndra was anything other than an investment that didn't pan out because the market changed. Accusations of cronyism weren't sustained by any evidence, and if there were evidence it would certainly have surfaced given the brightness of the spotlight that was shone on that failure. The Waltons also invested heavily in Solyndra, and took a beating. That loan program has a lower-than-average failure rate. And Solyndra failed because regular solar panels got cheaper, so glass tubes were no longer economical.

    The part of the Nevada desert where that solar plant was going to be built is over a hundred miles from the desert tortoise habitat.

    But hey, why let pesky facts get in the way of talking points?

  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:5, Informative)

    by guises ( 2423402 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @11:29AM (#46859655)
    One company that went bankrupt which had received a subsidized loan, out of forty such companies, is exemplary of the whole program? A successful program which beat it's own return expectations by $2 billion?

    Okay, let's suppose that that's true. And let's suppose that some story about nepotism for Harry Reid's son (I've never heard of this) is just as bad as the Koch brothers buying our government, and let's suppose that corruption is exactly equal on both sides of the D / R line, all exactly as you say. So what? All things being equal then, I'd much rather have the clean energy than the dirty.
  • Re:Heh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:35PM (#46860369)

    I'm sorry, but that is an outright lie. The reason I know this is because I have family working in one of the biggest hydrocarbon power plant design and contsruction firms. They are talking about massive inflow of tenders for new plants, and old ones are NOT getting decommissioned - instead whenever possibly they are being fired up to run again.

    In fact, it's so bad that after Energiewende started, Germany which had goals to reduce CO2 emissions, which it was meeting, had to give those goals up. Instead of reduction, firing up of all the older coal plants and newer ones getting started cause CO2 emissions of Germany to actually increase for the first time in many years, and this particular trend is only picking up pace. It's actually pretty hilarious to see many environmental organisations complain about this issue, when their lobbying for wind as "kinda sorta" base power and shutting down nukes is the direct cause of this occurring in the first place.

    And of course reactors are still running. There aren't enough mothballed coal plants to replace all the production you'd lose. Instead they are being mothballed as older and newer coal plants that replace them come online. That's what's causing the increase in CO2 emissions in Germany.

  • Re:Buggy whips? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @06:03PM (#46863521) Journal [] [] [] []

    But then again, if John Stewart and Colbert don't report it, it never happened ... right?

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.