A new rooftop solar system isinstalled every three minutes in the U.S., up from one every 80 minutes just eight short years ago. If this pace continues to accelerate or even just holds steady, it will not be long before solar panels become visible, if not ubiquitous, in many neighborhoods nationwide.
That prospect is enough to upset the Koch brothers, the heirs of the Walmart fortune and the utility industry, all which are trying to stamp out the rooftop solar movement or at least make a tidy profit penalizing the people who use it. With the help of powerful lobbyists and PACs like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity, they are set to do battle in statehouses across the nation in 2015.
ALEC, which receives much of its funding from the utility industry and fossil-fuel investors like the Kochs, has long been an opponent of renewable energyand the Obama administration’s effort to reduce carbon emissions. It’s working with conservative activists and corporate interests to fight homeowners who are installing solar panels on their roofs. Calling people who install rooftop solar panel “freeriders,” another word for freeloaders, the pro-corporate group is actively promoting legislation in states to charge fees, even exorbitant ones, for rooftop solar installations.