From the Salt Lake (City) Tribune: Commentary: Should you be forced to subsidize your neighbor’s #solar panels?

A great commentary on solar and how people that cannot afford it are actually subsidizing those that can…

Should Utahns who don’t want or cannot afford to install solar panels on their home be forced to pay for those who can? That’s the crux of the current net-metering debate in our state.

Net metering allows solar customers to sell excess electricity generated by their rooftop panels back to the utility companies.

A study last year found that solar customers, who rely on and use the electrical grid as much as traditional customers, are not paying their fair share for its use.

What’s more, under the current net-metering arrangement, Rocky Mountain Power, Utah’s electric utility company, pays three times more for energy generated by residential solar panels than it pays for energy generated by commercial solar farms.

As a result, solar customers essentially receive a $400 subsidy every year, which amounts to a $6.5 million cost to the utility company. If things don’t change, as more people install solar panels on their homes, that number could skyrocket to $78 million.

This is bad news for non-solar customers who will foot the bill when Rocky Mountain Power increases prices to cover these losses.

The situation is particularly urgent for low-income households that spend an ever-growing portion of their income on electricity and suffer greatly from higher energy prices. For the 198,000 Utah households that earn less than $30,000, 18 percent of their monthly budget is already swallowed up by energy costs.

Rooftop solar on a home.

What’s worse, a rate increase doesn’t just mean higher utility bills, it also means higher costs for everything else. Local grocery stores forced to pay higher energy rates to light their stores and refrigerate food will likely pass on that cost in the form of higher prices. For families struggling to make ends meet from one month to the next, increased electricity costs could be catastrophic.

And when you consider that more than 60 percent of the state’s 22,000 rooftop solar owners earn more than $100,000 per year, it’s easy to see that the current rate structure is a patently unfair transfer of wealth from less fortunate consumers who can’t afford solar panels to the more well-off Utahns who can.

To level the playing field for all Utahns and protect the more vulnerable in our community, Rocky Mountain Power submitted a request to the Utah Public Service Commission to create a fairer rate structure.

Of course, solar companies that care only about protecting their customers’ lucrative subsidy are attempting to block the correction.

They argue that many customers who choose solar to save money on their electric bills will be disinclined to do so if the new prices requested by Rocky Mountain Power go into effect. And they disingenuously claim that fixing the rate disparity is meant to stifle competition and will kill jobs and harm a “thriving” industry.

But they fail to recognize that cheaper energy prices make Utah a desirable locale for businesses. Utah enjoys some of the lowest energy prices in the country, close to 20 percent lower than the national average. A potential rate increase to cover the ballooning costs of net metering could jeopardize our state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and jobs across all industries.

Moreover, if the solar industry is propped up with forced subsidies from people who cannot afford the product or simply don’t want it, is it really thriving?

The Utah Public Service Commission must eliminate the unfair subsidy for rooftop solar users. For their part, instead of relying on an artificial boost, rooftop solar companies should strive to make products and services that are truly affordable.

Evelyn Everton is the Utah state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Original article can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/27/commentary-should-you-be-forced-to-subsidize-your-neighbors-solar-panels/

USDA Seeks Nominees for National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking fluid milk processors and other interested parties to nominate candidates to serve on the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 12, 2018.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will appoint eight individuals to succeed members whose terms expire on June 30, 2018, and two members to fill vacant positions with terms expiring on June 30, 2019.

USDA will accept nominations for board representation in six geographic regions and two at-large positions. Nominees for the regional positions must be active owners or employees of a fluid milk processor. At least one at-large position must be a member of the general public.

The geographic regions with vacancies are: Region 3 (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and District of Columbia); Region 6 (Ohio and West Virginia); Region 8 (Illinois and Indiana); Region 9 (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee); Region 12 (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah); and Region 15 (Southern California).

Newly appointed members will serve three-year terms from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021. USDA will also accept nominations to fill a vacant position in Region 4 (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina), and a vacant at-large position, each to serve a one-year term expiring on June 30, 2019.

Fluid milk processors and interested parties may submit nominations for regions in which they are located or market fluid milk, and for at-large members.

To nominate an individual, please submit a copy of the nomination form and a signed background form for each nominee by Jan. 12, 2018, to: Emily DeBord, Promotion, Research, and Planning Division, Dairy Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Stop 0233, Room 2958-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-0233, or via email at emily.debord@ams.usda.gov. For nominating forms and information, visit the AMS website or call (202) 720-5567

Seeking Nominations for the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently seeking nominations from a diverse range of candidates to serve on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). This is a great opportunity for concerned citizens to assist the agency in advancing its mission to protect human health and the environment.

EPA established NACEPT in 1988 to provide advice to the EPA Administrator about a broad range of environmental policy, technology and management issues. Members serve as representatives of academia, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and local, state, and tribal governments. EPA is seeking nominations from candidates representing all sectors noted above.

Individuals with a strong background in the following fields are encouraged to apply: data management/monitoring, social science, economic initiatives, public health, biodiversity, community sustainability, environmental policy/management, and environmental justice.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate nominees:

  1. Professional knowledge of environmental policy, management, and technology issues, particularly issues dealing with all facets of citizen science.
  2. Demonstrated ability to assess and analyze environmental challenges with objectivity and integrity.
  3. Middle/Senior-level leadership experience that fills a current need on the Council.
  4. Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills, and consensus-building skills.
  5. Ability to volunteer approximately 10 to 15 hours per month to the Council’s activities, including participation in face-to-face meetings, video/teleconference meetings and preparation of documents for the Council’s reports and advice letters.

In order to fill anticipated vacancies by April 2018, nomination packages should be received by January 3, 2018.

For full details regarding the nomination process, please visit: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-11-21/html/2017-25188.htm

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION regarding the NACEPT, please contact: Eugene Green, Designated Federal Officer, U.S. EPA; telephone (202) 564-2432; fax (202) 564-8129; email green.eugene@epa.gov.

From Mother Jones: The Problem With Rooftop Solar That Nobody Is Talking About

Here is another article that is almost two years old but still holds true. This is from Mother Jones. A good read.

“A couple of years ago, Steven Weissman, an energy lawyer at the University of California-­Berkeley, started to shop around for solar panels for his house. It seemed like an environmental no-brainer. For zero down, leading residential provider SolarCity would install panels on his roof. The company would own the equipment, and he’d buy the power it produces for less than he had been paying his electric utility. Save money, fight climate change. Sounds like a deal.

“But while reading the contract, Weissman discovered the fine print that helps make that deal possible: SolarCity would also retain ownership of his system’s renewable energy credits. It’s the kind of detail your average solar customer wouldn’t notice or maybe care about. But to Weissman, it was an unexpected letdown.

“To understand his hang-up, you need a bit of Electricity 101. If you have solar panels on your roof, the electrons they produce flow across the electric grid like water, following a path of least resistance. As they whiz around, electrons are impossible to track and look identical, whether they’re coming from solar panels, a coal plant, or whatever. But there is value in keeping tabs on the renewable ones, so energy wonks came up with renewable energy credits (RECs), a tradable financial instrument that corresponds to a certain amount of energy produced by a certain renewable source like solar or wind.”

The complete article can be found here:

The Problem With Rooftop Solar That Nobody Is Talking About