Tea Party And Sierra Club Team Up on Solar Energy

Members of both groups gathered in Georgia to celebrate a decision made by Georgia’s leading utility company to increase its use of solar power.
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    Solar panels cover cars parked in a lot nearby Centennial Olympic Park, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Atlanta. The Georgia chapter of Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, wants Georgia's utility regulators to reject a solar energy plan in Georgia. But an Associated Press review ahead of a vote on the issue finds that it has used misleading figures to build its case. (AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White)

    Solar panels cover cars parked in a lot nearby Centennial Olympic Park, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in Atlanta. Georgian members of both the Sierra Club and the Tea Party rallied in support of a state plan to increase solar energy, forming an unlikely alliance. (AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White)

    Tea Party conservatives and Sierra Club environmentalists are pairing together in an unlikely coalition united in favor of solar power.

    On July 11, members of both groups gathered in Georgia to celebrate a decision made by Georgia’s leading utility company to increase its use of solar power, an energy mode that’s quickly becoming a more affordable option for American households.

    The George Public Service Commission, the largest utility, announced it will add 525 MW of solar power to its overall portfolio, ushering in enough ammo to power 48,000 homes. It’s the latest move in a state that’s realizing the economic and environmental benefits of solar power — last year, Georgia increased its solar capacity by 44 percent, becoming the fourth largest solar state in the nation, according to PV Magazine.

    The shift toward solar wasn’t an easy sell. The move to designate a large chunk of the state utility’s energy production to solar came after a 4-1 commission vote to do so — and that, in turn, came after a two-year debate over whether to allow investment in solar growth.

    Costs related to solar energy are steadily decreasing, leading to the rise of both residential and commercial solar-powered units. According to the Geostellar Quarterly Index, which factors the viability of solar energy, the affordability and investment return on solar energy is at an all-time high. The report went so far to say that investment in residential solar panels proved to be more financially rewarding than investment in S&P 500 stocks.

    Tea Party members applauded the move as one that recognized the importance of free market capitalism. For them, the state utility recognized the increased value in investing in solar energy.

    “The premise is simple: Those who believe in the free market need to reexamine the way our country produces energy,” argues conservative writer Debbie Dooley at Grist. “Giant utility monopolies deserve at least some competition, and consumers should have a choice. It’s just that simple, and it’s consistent with the free-market principles that have been a core value of the Tea Party since we began in 2009.”

    Dooley refers to the partnership as the “Green Tea Coalition,” one that’s pitting economically viable, environmentally sound practices against the fossil fuel industry.

    Environmentalists with the Sierra Club welcomed the support of their newfound bedfellows, but for different reasons — the battle against climate change and the investment in renewable, common resources are causes environmentalists have long supported. Now, their cause is not only environmentally friendly, but also affordable.

    “The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” Environment Georgia policy advocate Jennette Gayer told PV Magazine. “The solar leaders in our country have been shown that if you want your state to be a leader in pollution-free solar energy, set big goals and get good policies on the books…. Georgia has taken a huge step in the right direction.”

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      • Saveour Skylineohio

        Did someone “spike” their TEA?

      • oknow

        My fear with the new group is that those who are opportunistic financiers or fracking natural gas interests who win when electric rates go up, will do to energy costs what was done with the housing mess…………non-profits under the cover of helping people often are just using them as cover while they keep exploiting the earth.
        People will loose big time when energy costs rise while they are facing increasing bills and not wage growth.
        Kinda scary that you do not know who is really pushing what while receiving pay offs in off shore accounts………………..wise up.

      • stephenverchinski

        First you must get rid of the investor owned utilities that want a guaranteed return on investment and open your own state banks and local utilities to overcome monopoly power and it’s resistance to public ownership. Extracting of rent in the form of dividends prevent many locations nationally from pursuing better solutions. The investor owned utilities want it all…The Sierra Club should be careful as to whose bed it gets into when promoting climate change protection policies.