Exactly Backwards

Image of wind turbines

A new study published this week predicts a grim future for the planet because of climate change caused by carbon emissions, but here in Oklahoma legislators are trying to penalize people who use solar panels on their homes.

The far-reaching and massive study, conducted by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns of the catastrophic consequences posed by global warming, including future famines, population displacement, mass migrations and violent conflict over resources. Poorer countries will likely fare the worst.

The evidence of climate change and global warming, according to the study, is all around us, from melting arctic ice to dying wildlife to droughts to severe weather events. The main cause for global warming remains manmade carbon dioxide emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

The dire scenarios outlined by the report will hopefully bolster efforts throughout the world to create cleaner, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydropower.

Oklahoma legislators, however, aren’t going to let the planet’s survival get in the way of protecting the status quo.

A bill that has passed in the Oklahoma Senate on a 41 to 0 vote would charge people who send electricity back to the grid by the use of solar panels or wind turbines a tariff or surcharge for doing so. Senate Bill 1456 has also passed a House committee on a 7 to 0 vote.

Supporters of the bill claim the extra charges would help utility companies build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to handle the incoming electricity, but it seems terribly counter intuitive to penalize people for using renewable energy given the dire impact of climate change. If anything, utility companies should be rewarding solar users for lessening demand during peak usage times and helping the environment.

The bottom line is that homes and buildings using solar and wind energy threaten the current business model of utility companies, which must change to become both a sole provider and a distributor of electricity. Part of that change is embracing renewable energy.

The bill has it exactly backwards. Solar and wind power users contributing to the grid should get more incentives, not tariffs.