The kick off speech for the Solar Power International 2009 convention on Tuesday could have been mistaken for a UC Berkeley plaza circa the ’60s. In a rallying speech Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), attacked the oil and coal lobbies for actively discrediting the solar industry, and asked the solar biz to “fight for equality and liberty in the energy market.” The aggressive rhetoric took on a patriotic tone when Resch declared the start of the conference “solar’s Fourth of July,” and launched a “solar Bill of Rights,” which are supposed to help the industry “declare our independence from policies that prevent greater use of solar energy.”
We can accept the tyranny of a century of policies that protects our competitors, or we can fight for a new century of policies that secure our rights.
Them’s there fighting words. The enemy is the coal and oil lobbies, which he said have received $72 billion in federal subsidies between 2002 and 2008, while the solar industry has received less than $1 billion during that time. “Taxpayers are forced to subsidize companies like ExxonMobil TICKER, companies that are the richest in the history of the world. It’s that simple—and that wrong,” said Resch.
And it’s not only the fossil fuel lobbyists, it’s their PR and marketing machines, too, said Resch. This year the coal industry will spend $50 million and the oil and gas industries will spend over $100 million on advertising alone, said Resch, “much of it is financing a deliberate effort to discredit our industry.” Policies that make sure the coal and oil industries stay in power, are also the enemy.
In response to this “tyranny” SEIA and Resch decided to launch its Bill of Rights, these following eight points that can protect the solar industry:
1). Right To No Red Tape: “Americans have the right to put solar on their homes or businesses.” Down with “antiquated rules” that prevent more solar installations “from restrictive covenants to onerous connection, permitting and inspection fees,” that “create fundamental barriers to solar. Utilities should not be allowed to restrict green power with red tape.”
2). Right to Connect: “Americans have the right to connect their solar system to the grid with uniform national standards. This is as simple as creating a standard jack for telephones.”
3). Right to Net Meter: “Consumers have the right to Net Meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates. Call this solar’s eminent domain—utilities use the power we make, and we expect to be compensated at its actual value.”
4). Right to Fair Environment: “We have the right to a fair competitive environment.” That means the fossil fuel industry shouldn’t be so massively subsidized over solar power.
5). Right to Land: The solar industry wants as much access to public land as the fossil fuel industry. “Oil and natural gas companies are operating on 45 million acres of public lands. Today, solar companies have access to ZERO.”
6). Right to Connect with Transmission: We need the “right to interconnect and build new transmission lines.”
7). Right to Buy Solar from Utilities: “Americans must have the right to buy solar electricity from our utilities. . . Therefore, for any renewable portfolio standard to be effective, at either the federal or state level, it must contain a large carve out for all solar energy technologies.”
8). Right to Ethics: “Consumers have the right, and should expect, the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry. From minimizing our impact on the environment to providing systems that work better than advertized to ensuring that we accurately communicate how incentives work for consumers.”