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Will GOP let utilities crush solar (and 1,200 jobs) in Kentucky? This could get ugly.


Kentucky now has only 1,000 solar homes. When the benefits of home-generated solar power to the grid are factored in, there is no “subsidy” or cost-shifting, many independent studies have shown. The purpose of this bill, he said, is to hurt free-market ...


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An array of solar panels on Lexington architect Richard Levine's home studioHouse Bill 227 would cut by 70 percent the amount utilities would have to pay homeowners who sell small amounts of excess power into the grid Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com An array of solar panels on Lexington architect Richard Levine's home studioHouse Bill 227 would cut by 70 percent the amount utilities would have to pay homeowners who sell small amounts of excess power into the grid Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.leadAssets.init(); }); Tom Eblen Will GOP let utilities crush solar (and 1,200 jobs) in Kentucky? This could get ugly. By Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Reddit Print Order Reprint of this Story $(document).ready(function () { mi.articleShareTools.init({ nextLinkedin: '10267', nextPinterest: '10221' }); mi.socialSharingScroll.init(); }); February 05, 2018 09:50 AM You would think after the sexual harassment scandal involving former Speaker Jeff Hoover and three other colleagues, House Republicans would not want to bring more embarrassment upon themselvesBut you would be wrong. GOP leaders allowed RepJim Gooch of Providence on Friday to add three members to the Natural Resources and Energy Committee he chairsGooch needs them to try to pass a bill he is sponsoring to let electric utility monopolies crush Kentucky’s residential solar power industry. That’s right: Not only are committee Democrats against this bad bill, Gooch doesn’t think he has enough Republican supportSo GOP leaders let him rig the committeeAll eyes will be on the three new members — RepsMyron Dossett, R-Hopkinsville; Robby Mills, R-Henderson; and Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro — when Gooch finally brings his House Bill 227 to a vote. But this bill’s fate in the Republican-controlled legislature could have significance beyond solar energyIf House and Senate Republicans vote to kill 1,200 jobs in small solar energy businesses across Kentucky in order to protect utility monopolies, they will have a lot of explaining to do to many average GOP voters come November jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.renderNewsletterIframe.init({ container: '#newsletter-signUpWidget', url: 'http://x.email.kentucky.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=186,http://x.email.kentucky.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=190,http://x.email.kentucky.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=196' }); }); Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.calltoActionCtrl.init(); }); Last year, the utilities got SenJared Carpenter, R-Berea and chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, to introduce a milder version of this billBut when opponents explained the bill’s implications, he dropped it like a hot rock The residential solar industry claims 1,200 jobs in Kentucky, mostly blue-collar installation workers, and has been growing in recent years as solar panel technology has become much cheaper. The utilities came back this year with an even worse bill and a sponsor who has become the face of the General Assembly’s fealty to fossil fuels. House Bill 227 would cut by 70 percent the rate utilities pay homeowners for excess solar power they pump into the gridThat means it would take far longer for home solar systems to pay for themselves, essentially killing the industry, solar advocates say. Gooch, who served in the house for 20 years as a Democrat before becoming a Republican in 2015, is no stranger to shameful behaviorHe made national news in 2007 by organizing a hearing on the science of climate change that didn’t include any scientistsInstead, he featured a “senior fellow” from the Exxon-backed Heartland Institute and a climate change-denying British viscount who designs puzzles. The Jan31 committee meeting on Gooch’s solar bill was just as comicalAfter falsely claiming that other utility customers are subsidizing residential solar, he introduced a lobbyist for the Consumer Energy Alliance, a fossil fuel and utility front group that masquerades as a consumer advocacy organization When opponents of the bill were given a chance to speak, Tom Fitzgerald, longtime head of the Kentucky Resources Council, shredded their argumentsIf lawmakers think residential solar is shifting costs to other customers, he said, they should ask the state Public Service Committee to study the issue and recommend changesBut utility monopolies should not be allowed to dictate Kentucky’s energy future, he said Jamie Clark, a Lexington Republican activist who owns a solar installation company, noted that Kentucky law already limits utilities’ obligation to pay home solar generators full value for their excess power to 1 percent of the total customer base, or 18,000 homesKentucky now has only 1,000 solar homesWhen the benefits of home-generated solar power to the grid are factored in, there is no “subsidy” or cost-shifting, many independent studies have shownThe purpose of this bill, he said, is to hurt free-market competition “Don’t you think Time Warner Cable would like to go back 30 years and make it illegal to put a satellite dish on your roof?” he asked“That’s effectively what this legislation is doing to residential solar.” Then Clark made some Republican committee members squirmHe noted the presence of several utility lobbyists in the room, saying “they have their bosses.” Then he explained that he is a Republican because he believes in supporting small business, promoting a free market and opposing government interference in businessIf this bill passes, he said, his 24 employees will be out of work within a year. “I cannot see how any member of the Republican party on this committee can vote for this bill,” Clark said“But, as I said, we all have our bossesYour vote will let the people of Kentucky know who you see as your bossWill you vote no in support of the free market the way the citizens of your district elected you, or will you vote to increase the utilities’ monopoly to support out-of-state or even out-of- country businesses?” Tom Eblen: 859-231-1415, @tomeblen Jim Gooch at a legislative hearing in 2007He has chaired what is now called the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee for many years, both as a Democrat and now as a Republican David Perry Herald-Leader File Photo Jamie Clark owns Synergy Home LLC, a solar installation company in Lexington Tom Eblen teblen@herald-leader.com 1 of 2 lazyLoadingModule("inlinegallery-template-198417014", "inlinegallery-target-198417014", "gallery",500, undefined, undefined, undefined, "undefined", 198417014 , 2 ); !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{},utils={getCanonicalLinkHref:function(){for(var links=document.getElementsByTagName("link"),i=0;i-1}}}(); !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{};if(console&&console.log&&console.log("Tout SDK: "+ +new Date),!TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt){TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt=new Date,TOUT.EMBED_CODE_VERSION="1.2.0";var sdkHost=TOUT.SDK_HOST||"platform.tout.com",sdkProtocol=TOUT.SDK_PROTOCOL||("https:"==window.location.protocol?"https:":"http:"),analyticsHost=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_HOST||"analytics.tout.com",analyticsProtocol=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_PROTOCOL||sdkProtocol;TOUT.onReady=TOUT.onReady||function(func){return TOUT._onReadyQueue=TOUT._onReadyQueue||[],TOUT._onReadyQueue.push(func),TOUT},TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel=function(trigger_name,attrs){var img=new Image,url=analyticsProtocol+"//"+analyticsHost+"/events?trigger="+trigger_name;for(var attr in attrs)attrs.hasOwnProperty(attr)&&(url+="&"+attr+"="+encodeURIComponent(attrs[attr]));return img.src=url,img},TOUT.init=function(brandUid,options){options=options||{};var sdkScriptId="tout-js-sdk";if(document.getElementById(sdkScriptId)&&!options.forceInit)return TOUT;if(brandUid=TOUT.SDK_BRAND_UID||brandUid,"undefined"==typeof brandUid||"string"!=typeof brandUid||0===brandUid.length||brandUid.length>7)return TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel("sdk_log",{log_level:"error",log_message:"BRAND_UID_NOT_DEFINED",content_page_url:window.location.href}),console&&console.error&&console.error("TOUT - Invalid Brand UID: "+brandUid),TOUT;TOUT._initOptions=options;var script=document.createElement("script");script.type="text/javascript",script.src=sdkProtocol+"//"+sdkHost+"/sdk/v1/"+brandUid+".js",script.id=sdkScriptId,script.className="tout-sdk";var firstScript=document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];return firstScript.parentNode.insertBefore(script,firstScript),TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel("sdk_initialized",{content_brand_uid:brandUid,sdk_embed_code_version:TOUT.EMBED_CODE_VERSION,content_page_url:window.location.href}),TOUT}}}(); (function(){ var brandUid = "c242a4"; TOUT.mapAsyncFetchApp.init(brandUid); TOUT.init(brandUid); TOUT.mapAsyncFetchApp.fetch(); })(); ! function() { var tagalongWidth = 325; if (window.innerWidth 320 && window.innerWidth 768 && window.innerWidth 325) { tagalongWidth = 325 } document.body.addEventListener('ToutSDKLoad', function(evt) { //wait for SDK to load TOUT.model.setMixinSettings('TagAlong', { //change width of tagalong unit before player is created popoutWidth: tagalongWidth }) }) }(); Suggested for you lazyLoadingModule("zerg-template", "zerg-target", "zerg",500, undefined, undefined, undefined, "53301", undefined , undefined );   Comments   Needs to be visible to set the correct height of the comment componentI'm hiding it on document readyAppending it later did not work--> jQuery(document).ready(function () { mi.commentingFaceboook.init(); }); Videos View More Video About Tom Eblen @tomeblen Follow @tomeblen ! function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById (id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}} (document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); Tom Eblen is a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader who writes about life, people and issues in Lexington and KentuckyA Lexington native, Eblen was the Herald-Leader's managing editor from 1998 to 2008 Tom Eblen State investment in the arts pays big returnsWhy doesn’t GovMatt Bevin get it? People laughed, but he made Kentucky a player in spaceWhat he sees for the future. It has spread Kentucky knowledge for 75 yearsBevin’s budget cuts would shut it down. Her writing, Kentucky institute are known worldwideNow she’ll be honored at home. Face it: Politicians won’t pass gun controlHow can the rest of us help our kids? Tom Eblen jQuery(document).ready(function () { UD.updateDate.getDiffDate("1517928741", "MMMM DD, YYYY hh:mm A", "America/New_York", "en" , "-05:00"); }); Subscriptions Start a Subscription Customer Service eEdition Vacation Hold Pay Your Bill Rewards Site Information About Us Contact Us Newsletters News in Education Archives Social, Mobile & More

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