Solar Power Under Attack in California

At the moment of crisis, will we affirm our commitment to
developing sources of renewable energy, or will our resolution
waver? Peter Asmus asks Californians this question in a recent
article in the environmental Webzine Faultline. According
to Asmus, the future viability of solar power in California may be
jeopardized by a new proposal before the California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC) to implement a ?solar tax.? What
remains to be seen is what Californians will do to avert this
threat to its favored source of renewable energy.

At issue are the multi-million dollar contracts for fossil fuel
purchased by the state of California during its energy crisis in
2001. Since utility customers with solar panels on their homes can
sell their excess power back to the grid, the CPUC implies, they
unfairly shift the burden of paying off the ?state investment? in
fossil fuels to customers who rely on traditional sources of
energy. The so-called solar tax, they argue, would shift some of
this burden to those using solar power.

Asmus argues that the tax will increase the cost of using solar
energy, ?effectively [wiping] out a 40 percent subsidy granted
under existing state programs.? The CPUC?s proposal will thus ?pull
the rug out from under solar power, the one electricity source that
can bring ?power to the people? while helping the economy and the

Such effects could indeed prove disastrous for a state that has
not only committed itself to the development of renewable energy
sources, but has also seen ?installations of this clean
non-polluting energy source [solar power] increase by 1,000
?Amelia Bauerly

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