A year ago Thursday, the Patrick administration announced that it had reached its goal of installing 250 megawatts of solar energy four years early, and the effort to push that total higher continues. The Solarize Mass program continues to pay dividends in the Berkshires and a Berkshire chapter of 350 Massachusetts was formed in April to push for more solar and wind energy. While it is unfortunate that Lee and Lenox have had to drop their joint solar array project there is reason to hope it can be revived. Generally speaking, solar has a bright future in the county and Massachusetts. Unless ...
States in the Midwest and Southwest where Big Oil is king are fighting efforts to expand the use of solar energy. Not surprisingly, according to a report last week in the Los Angeles Times, the Koch brothers, whose polluting industries have made them millionaires many times over, are leading the effort in concert with the right-wing politicians they own. Their strategy is the height of hypocrisy given the alleged opposition of the players involved to taxation and big government.
In Oklahoma, for example, the Republican governor and Legislature have passed a law allowing utility companies to put a surcharge on the bills of private citizens who install solar panels. While Massachusetts is encouraging solar use, Oklahoma is penalizing it, and other states in that region will or have done likewise. What makes this hypocritical, of course, is that Republicans supposedly oppose taxes, fees and surcharges, as do their benefactors the Kochs. Anti-tax blowhard Grover Norquist, who demands that GOP candidates sign pledges not to raise taxes, is part of the effort to block solar power through surcharges. So taxes and government regulations are fine with the right wing after all, as long as the goal is to help polluters.
While we are fortunate to live in an enlightened state when it comes to using green energy and spotting political phonies, efforts to cripple the solar industry nationally could, if successful, limit the solar options of the state’s residents and businesses. The reach of big, oil-soaked money is long, and the hypocrisy of some right-wing pols is boundless.