Big Solar. It sounds like a silly notion. The innocent seeming, well-intentioned alternative to fossil fuels, solar is a promise of the future everyone is familiar with. We see panels everywhere. There are solar farms, contentedly harvesting solar power from our friend the Sun, ready to help build a clean energy future we can be proud and green of. So how could there be a Big Solar?
Put Big in front of anything and you conjure up images of nefarious multinational corporations or the iron fist of government. Not something you associate with the world’s most Sesame Street friendly power source. But Big Solar is a real thing, and there are billions of dollars at play. Tax dollars are at play. Your dollars.
We wrote recently about a pretend Tea Party organization playing with solar that consists of about one Tea Party figure and a veritable smorgasbord of lefty causes and groups, including (of all things) #Occupy. I don’t doubt that our readers find the idea of a Tea Party group working hand in hand with Occupy and Greenpeace to be a difficult concept to internalize. Rightly so. But that’s just one example of the problem with solar and subsidies.
Here’s another one: Solyndra. Remember that? Remember what happened? We tried to pick a winner (and by we I mean Obama, and by tried I mean used government money, and by winner I mean ridiculously buffoon-like loser) and shockingly, the result was less than optimal. But far be it from government to learn its lesson. Tax dollars still flow to subsidies of alternative fuel and energy sources. And there is a group that is laying on the pressure to make sure Big Solar gets the big bite: T.U.S.K. America.
Much like the Green Tea group, T.U.S.K, or Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed, claims to be standing up to utility monopolies. Here is what they say on their website:
TUSK formed to create a united front through which we can tell utilities that solar is right for conservatives and right for America. We want energy choice and independence, and solar provides that. The utilities are trying to hold onto their monopoly and continue to make you buy centralized power. Solar is the American way and the conservative way, and we’re here to protect that.
Sounds great right? Sure. And there’s more. The group’s chairman is the man himself, Barry Goldwater Jr. Yep, that is who I mean. Former Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., representative from California from 1969 to 1983 and son of Barry Goldwater, the spark that rekindled American conservatism. Big name.
But also like other solar groups, TUSK makes for some strange bedfellows indeed.
One of the biggest funders of the group is Solar City, a major solar provider. Solar City’s largest shareholder isn’t quite as conservatively credentialed as TUSK’s chairman Goldwater. None other than Elon Musk holds the honor.
Musk, the founder of PayPal, co-founder of Tesla Moters, and the CEO of SpaceX, has another claim to fame: he was one of candidate Obama’s biggest, and most well-compensated bundlers. So they’ve got that going for them.
Indeed, that’s not the only tie to Tesla Motors. Solar City also has a lobbyist in common with company, McBee Strategic Consulting. Fun fact about McBee, they also lobbied for Solyndra. Cozy, right?
The truth about Big Solar is that it does rely on government largesse. But don’t take it from a blog article, take it from Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who in 2009 said this:
Right now, our entire business model is dependent upon incentives and policies that create markets for solar.
Entire. Business. Model. Creating markets is what they tried to do with Solyndra. Incentives are what they tried to do with Solyndra. And now we see the same lobbyists, the same backers, and the same arguments coming back over and over on behalf of Big Solar.
This week, 2016 presidential hopefuls will be returning to Iowa, land of another big alt fuel subsidy. And as RedState notes, TUSK is currently fighting, and lobbying, for their green (the eco color) green (dollar dollar bills) in several states over net metering. In Louisiana Big Solar is getting press taking shots at Bobby Jindal. It’s Big Solar baby. Get your tan on.
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