A Cap on Solar Is Not the American Way

As a conservative, I’ve got my eyes on New Hampshire right now, a state that is buzzing with presidential hopefuls and the energy of a burgeoning solar industry. But the Granite State needs strong conservative leadership to ensure its energy future remains poised for jobs and economic growth. New Hampshire is up against a fast-approaching and unnecessary cap on solar and state leaders should lift it immediately.

There are currently more than 70 solar companies in New Hampshire, employing hundreds. We can do better not only by our hardworking families who want to save money on rising energy bills and who deserve good local jobs, but also by our homegrown solar companies who want competition. A cap on solar energy is not the conservative way and it is not the American way.

Solar is finally beginning to take off in the Granite State, creating good local jobs and providing us the freedom to produce our own homegrown, affordable, clean energy. That’s why I formed Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK), a group that helps the public tell utilities that solar is right for conservatives and right for America. I believe in choice and competition, and rooftop solar is the only true form of competition that utility monopolies have ever faced. Now is the time to put our conservative principles to work and unfetter an industry that is working for New Hampshire.

And my fellow conservative voters agree. Polls across the country continue to underscore the support for rooftop solar on the right. In Arizona, 83 percent of conservative voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who wants to end solar power. In Louisiana, 76 percent of conservatives in a recent poll agree the opportunity for homeowners to go solar is important for providing choice and competition in electricity. When South Carolina voters were asked if consumers should pay an additional fee to invest in solar panels, 92 percent said “no.”

In New Hampshire, some utilities have already hit the solar cap, a limit on a critical solar policy called net metering. Net metering provides fair accounting for the energy solar customers deliver to the grid. Liberty Utilities has already hit their cap on net metered customers. Eversource, serving the majority of New Hampshire residents, is fast approaching its cap. The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative hit their cap and instituted a different scheme that carries serious negative tax implications for solar customers – a losing bet for New Hampshire. In fact, these types of tax schemes are under investigation by the IRS.

Net metering on the other hand, is the only free market policy that preserves our conservative values and allows for sustained solar growth. It has been the driving force behind Granite Staters’ going solar. Other proposed policies would place a tax burden on those who want to buy less electricity from the utility monopoly, which is anti-consumer, anti-competition and no way to keep the New Hampshire solar industry growing.

As reported by the Washington Post, utilities across the country have been fighting rooftop solar tooth and nail.  However, utilities like Eversource and Liberty have an opportunity. They can avoid disruption and extend net metering today so that legislators can address the topic during the upcoming legislative session.

Homeowners have the right to decide what they do on their own property, and that includes installing solar panels to power their homes, free from caps, taxes, and fees. When utility monopolies ask Big Government to dictate how customers use their own property, they attack the conservative way. The need to keep net metering and lift the solar cap is clear, and I’m hopeful that the Granite State won’t stomp out competition.

Lead image: Suburban ranch style home with solar panel on roof. Credit: Shutterstock.

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Barry Goldwater Jr. served 14 years in the U.S. Congress. He served on a number of committees, including the Committee on Science and Technology, Committee on Public Works and Transportation, and the Joint Committee on Energy. He is the Chairman of TUSK, which advocates for energy choice. www.dontkillsolar.com

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