Earth Day features foolish green-energy stonewall

| Staff Editorial |

In the wake of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, Kansas faces becoming polluted by undue influence from special-interest lobbyists in the state legislature.
Model legislation has been introduced in Oklahoma, with similar measures on the way in our state and in many others, to curtail the expansion of renewable energy and restrict residents’ rights.

Solar lowers costs

The big issue here is the practice known as net metering, when a resident who has a solar cell on his or her roof decides to dispense with excess energy by selling it to the local utility.
In so doing, he or she gets a nice incentive to go green, and the power company gets a small shot of extra capacity to offer to other customers. On the surface, everyone wins.
Imagine if Pittsburg could sponsor something like this for its residents.
Electricity costs, a serious burden for Pitt State students who live off campus, would be relieved a bit.
The economy would get a boost: Local retailers, such as The Home Depot, sell solar power equipment, and contractors get the business of installing it.
Unfortunately, private-sector special interest groups with deep pockets and broad political clout have decided that it would also be a threat to the energy industry.
Any such concern is overblown.
Depending on one’s definition of “solar power,” it provides no more than 5 percent of the nation’s energy needs. Community reliance on solar sources of electricity is still impossible outside of the sunniest desert climates.
The act of buying a rooftop solar cell powerful enough to provide for a home is still only just becoming cost effective, and that’s with considerable state and federal subsidies.
There is no room for reason with people who are determined to preserve the regional monopolies of utility companies and, by extension, fossil-fuel producers.

Lobbies < voters Those industries want a ban on net metering and propose other harebrained ideas like a repeal of Kansas’ goal to get to 20 percent renewable reliance by 2020. They say that any government support of these efforts poses too much of a risk to their interests and, in a way only they seem to understand, harms “freedom.” Anyone with any sense can see what’s really going on. On March 25, the Kansas Senate passed a bill, 25-15, to repeal the 20 percent goal, though the state House of Representatives managed to have the sense to kill it. The effort now thankfully lies in limbo, the proper fate of anything that strangles initiatives to put money into homeowners’ pockets while advancing communities into the new millennium. It’s embarrassing when ideas come up in Topeka that are this nonsensical and unjustifiable except in the eyes of a narrow special interest. It is our responsibility as Kansans to remind our representatives that they work for us, that they represent us. And, when they take stupid, protectionist manure from a lobbyist’s hand and then vote for it, they should be called out.

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