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Oklahomans have been socked with a surprise from their own, supposedly “conservative” state officials.
It seems that thousands of Sooners have been putting solar panels on their homes to save on energy costs and reduce fossil-fuel pollution. Switching to solar even allows them to generate excess electricity, which they can transmit back to the grid and earn a credit on their monthly bills. To reward such common sense and socially-beneficial energy innovation, the state’s Republican-controlled government slapped a new “fee” – actually, a tax – on the bills of those who convert from grid takers to grid producers in the future.
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This crude slap in the face came with no advance notice, no public hearings, and no legislative debate. “It just appeared out of nowhere,” said one local solar business owner.
But this was not from “nowhere.” It came from a secretive corporate front group called ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. In exchange for getting millions of dollars from the Koch brothers, utilities, and other dirty-energy interests, ALEC is peddling a cookie-cutter bill from state-to-state that stops homeowners from switching to solar by taxing the energy they produce. ALEC even adds insult to the injury its Koch-headed backers are doing by calling such homeowners “freeriders on the system.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who was in on this despicable sneak attack from the start, had her ego stroked by the Koch-financed front group last year. ALEC presented its “Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award” to Fallin for her “record of advancing … free markets… and individual liberty.”
Now we know what the Koch-ALEC complex means by “free markets” and “liberty.” They mean that corporate energy interests should be free to stifle our individual liberty. Thomas Jefferson would be ashamed to have his name attached to anything that this cabal of corporate and governmental Kleptocrats come up with.
“Oklahoma Will Charge Customers Who Install Their Own Solar Panels,” www.thinkprogress.org, April 16, 2014.