Barack Obama's Non-Profit Group Takes Sides in Arizona's Solar-Energy Battle; W/UPDATE

Categories: Solar Energy

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Guess who's coming to the Arizona solar-energy debate?

That's right, it's none other than President Barack Obama, through his non-profit advocacy group Organizing For Action. The OFA recently sent out an email blast and created a web page that encourages people to send a message to the Arizona Corporation Commission demanding "full credit" for solar users.

But is the president squashing efforts by solar-installation companies to portray the ongoing battle over rooftop solar-energy credits in Arizona as non-partisan?

See also:
-APS Denies Funding Solar-Installer Attack Ad That It Likes
-Battle Between Solar Firms and Power Utilities Could Leave One Side Unplugged

The solar companies' side is represented most prominently in Arizona by PR man Jason Rose and washed-out son-of-an-icon Barry Goldwater Jr. in a quasi-Republican group known as TUSK. As the above-linked feature article explains, they're fighting with Arizona Public Service and like-minded utilities that are bent on preserving their own hides while protecting non-solar customers from a runaway-subsidies effect. You've probably seen the competing ads on TV -- one blames California solar firms for trying to jack up energy prices in Arizona; another accuses APS of attacking its own customers.

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The issue turns on how much money is being paid by the utility to solar users for the electricity they create. People with solar panels receive roughly the same rate for their homemade voltage as what they pay APS for the electricity it provides, which solar users still need for most of a 24-hour day. APS says the rates of non-solar customers could skyrocket as solar customers continue to take advantage of a state-mandated payout that's fixed too high.

The utility has presented two plans that raise electric bills for solar users to an amount that, APS says, takes full account of those users' fair share of costs associated with maintaining the energy grid. Solar companies fear that any change to the current payout scheme could result in a massive loss of business. The all-Republican, five-member Corporation Commission is expected to vote on the APS proposals after public hearings planned for this fall. In recent weeks, liberals have bombarded the board's members with messages urging them to support solar power, and sometimes blasting them as polluter-friendly coal-lovers.

Rose said on KAET-TV's Horizon program in April that "frankly, solar has been as a Democratic issue in the past," but that surveys show Republicans support it, too.

While true to some extent, Arizona Republicans aren't likely to love the OFA's linking of the polarizing president to the local debate over net metering.

"Fight for clean energy in Arizona," the web page shouts next to a picture of Obama. "It's simple. We should be rewarding those who invest in clean energy, not making it harder to make the switch."

The site invites people to send their personal information on a web form "to tell the Arizona Corporation Commission to protect full credit for clean energy."

OFA shares all the submitted info with its partner, Vote Solar, a grassroots pro-solar organization that skews left-wing.

Presumably, the data collected from this site -- whether from pro-solar Democrats or Republicans -- will end up flowing into Democratic databases of potential supporters.

UPDATE: APS got back to us with a response:


"Whether it's a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation, the recent mail piece from OFA is simply wrong. APS is a champion of solar power. We aren't trying to make it harder for customers to install solar panels. By recommending an increase in the upfront incentive for homeowners who choose solar, we want to continue the growth of solar power in Arizona in a way that is fair for all customers and sustainable for the long term."




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32 comments
americanenergy75
americanenergy75

There is a really cool solar program in the states right now that allows folks to have a system installed for no out of pocket cost - home owners pay the solar company for the energy the system makes along the way. It's a good program to get for one's home because solar energy is cheaper and cleaner than regular utility energy.

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timray333
timray333

first let the solar owners pay off what the taxpayer subsidized, then let's talk and when they sell it back, after they have paid back the taxpayer, sell it back at a fair price not what the taxpayer is forced to subsidize yet more

jeanjb
jeanjb

alls I know is I pay 100 to 150 less every month with my solar panels paid in part by GE.

that's right,the same GE that pays no taxes in this country!

thanks GE!

torvalenza
torvalenza

What APS doesn't say in its letter is that the fund to support upfront solar rebates comes out of a fee added to all utility bills. So, they love supporting more solar rebates, so long as they don't have to pay for it.  Solar doesn't need upfront rebates anymore. The market has made solar affordable without rebates. Net metering, which APS is fighting, has many benefits to APS and rate payers that APS won't admit. See http://protectnetmetering.org/learnmore/benefits-of-net-metering/

With net metering, solar customers can generate all of their electricity for their home. What they don't use during the day is credited at night. Meanwhile, APS gets to use that solar generated power to sell as electricity to surrounding homes. So it's a win-win. APS doesn't have to build as many power plants, saving them money, but APS won't admit that part.

jvonrockmann
jvonrockmann

Make and manage your own electricity, power what you need and shut up.

Your not forced to buy more from the power co. they have to make their buck.

 I have a large garden if I have a surplus is obama going to tell the stores to buy it from me. 

 OFA is another "Yes We Con" 

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

To anyone who is against solar and thinks the person who installed solar should get less for the power they send into the grid because of grid maint. costs.

APS and others pay me, a person who has solar, the same rate for my energy as I pay them when I am drawing from the grid. I maintain my own solar system and it's connection into the grid, the same connection APS already makes me pay in a connection fee to have power and a grid connection (i.e. my monthly subscriber fee before we even talk about energy delivery, energy costs per Kwh and taxes).

Now according to what they say, they buy it from the national energy producers at that same rate. Those national energy producers only pay for maintenance and costs of THEIR lines/grids and interconnects, not the APS lines/grids and interconnects - so why should I have to pay for APS's grid at large, especially when I am ALREADY paying for that grid at large in my monthly subscriber fee and associated charges???

Anna Marie
Anna Marie

what is he coming to debate? the fact that he gave Corporate Welfare to First Solar, which received a US Taxpayer loan guarantee to sell solar panels to itself! The subsidy came from the Import-Export Bank. In 2011, First Solar received $455.7 million to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two solar farms in Canada—owned by a small corporation called St. Clair Solar. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. Will he explain why he guaranteed a SCAM?

Daniel Navarro
Daniel Navarro

" The all-Republican, five-member Corporation Commission is expected to vote on the APS proposals after public hearings planned for this fall." I bet I can guess how that vote goes.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

The writer is mischaraterizing the nature of the Organization - ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA.  Who wrote this?  Oh, Ray - okay, well here's the information you should have presented instead of claiming OFA was Obama's "non-profit advocacy group". 

from the FAQ section of the OFA Website:

"Does President Obama support the establishment and activities of OFA?

OFA is advocating for the agenda that President Obama has presented to the nation, and as an organization dedicated to this purpose, OFA has been grateful for the expression of support for its work by the President, Vice President and First Lady. Although it was privately established and will be privately operated, without government funding, OFA will work hard to retain the support and confidence of the President by effectively advocating for his Administration's core agenda. It also looks forward to working with other civic organizations that are similarly committed to the successful enactment of this agenda." [emphasis added].

BTW - APS has been lying to us for decades, why would you believe a damn word that organization says!  You know that so-called research they supposedly did on solar arrays for over 20 years at their plant at McKlintock and University - Yeah, IT IS NON-EXISTENT.  They out-right lied when they said they were "testing" those units.  They weren't testing shite, they were just warehousing them so they would NOT feed electricity into the grid and to keep them from the public (specifically the portable solar generator which was bought and paid for by the highway overcharge settlement funds).  And don't get me started about the way they screwed us on the Palo Verde Nuclear plant!


Serendippdy
Serendippdy

Obama, can I please have free solar panels?

Serendippdy
Serendippdy

@Flyer9753 Peak solar hours are noon to 3 pm. Peak energy consumption hours are 5 to 7 pm. Paying your (or anyone else) the higher end of market rate for electricity during non peak hours means costs get shifted. We may not like it, but APS isn't a non-profit. 

It's not different than states passing laws limiting banking fees. Banks are for profit businesses -- limits on their ability to collect fees as they see fit are going to get passed on to all customers.

Now, with a bank, you at least have the choice to switch to another bank. I get that. But you also made a choice to go solar. Just like I made the choice to plant trees to provide my home with more shade  and installed energy efficiency shade screens on one side of my home. But you're not paying for that, are you?

I get the fact you think it's a really great deal. You're right. It is. Just like Alt Fuels was a really sweet deal for the people who took advantage of the state's generous giveaway.

Net metering was meant to jumpstart the solar industry. it did. And now it must be reformed before more freeloaders WHO CAN AFFORD the upfront investment punish the rest of this who can't.  And don't even try to argue that leasing makes solar affordable. Anyone dumb enough to sign a 20-yr lease on a non-transferable system has probably been out in the sun too long and needs to have their head examined.  There's a reason rooftop solar installation companies prey on retirement communities.


jvonrockmann
jvonrockmann

@Flyer9753  I have a large garden, should stores buy my surplus  

When I go to stores they charge me the same, 

I have to pay for the roads that take me there, and maintain transportation, I even have to pay for buses I don't even use.

 Is buying and selling at cost the bama math. Tell them you want more for your power, if they don't like your price oh well.  "..make your own power and be glad.

OFA is another "Yes We Con" ...Ideas so good they have to be mandated"


ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

(Slaps Steve with dead fish) It's objective enough.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

No, it's Organizing for Action, as i said, not America. Just double-checked the website. Not sure what your point is regarding that, though. I don't think I mischaracterized it.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@jvonrockmann 

Bullshit road analogy - the road it from my panels to the electric meter, which I pay for. SRP is responsible for the road past that since it's their road.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@ray.sternYou wrote: "That's right, it's none other than President Barack Obama, through his non-profit advocacy group Organizing For Action."  It is not President Barack Obama's group, it is a private group operated by people who are separate from President Barack Obama.  By saying it was "his . . . group" you are indicating that he runs it, he does not.  


jvonrockmann
jvonrockmann

@kimmyisradd @jvonrockmann 

maybe, but you can't eat electricity. 

You should know that they giveth and taketh away.

Don't buy or sell it, make your own and manage it.


arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@ray.stern We already know that your overall point is that solar is not the way to go. If you mean otherwise, arguing in comments isn't the way to clarify.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@ExpertShot @ray.stern Yes, solar works at night with CSP -- and with battery storage, too. I think my overall point is still sound because the vast majority of solar-power production is certainly not done at night.

As to my aquiline friend, I call BS on your notion that this article counts as "advocacy against the solar energy industry." Sounds you like think merely pointing out the existence of the OFA/Obama promo is advocacy against the solar energy industry. 

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@ExpertShot @ray.stern telling Mr. Stern to STFU won't get him to STFU... unfortunately, his work on this subject is far from objective and comes much closer to advocacy than an objective reporter is generally allowed to do. Of course, if he's considered a columnist, then he's generally allowed to pontificate like he has regularly in his advocacy against the solar energy industry.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@ray.sternRay, your statement " "Don't give me that BS that solar doesn't work at night." Now that's BS." shows just how ignorant you are.  "Solar" means energy powered by the Sun, but it is the radiation of the sun that is actually used to generate electricity.  Here is an example of a electricity generating plant which produces power from the stored radiation of the sun at night, so STFU!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_Solar_Power

Since the CSP plant generates heat first of all, it can store the heat before conversion to electricity. With current technology, storage of heat is much cheaper and more efficient than storage of electricity. In this way, the CSP plant can produce electricity day and night. If the CSP site has predictable solar radiation, then the CSP plant becomes a reliable power plant. Reliability can further be improved by installing a back-up combustion system. The back-up system can use most of the CSP plant, which decreases the cost of the back-up system.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@arizonaeagletarian @ray.stern Hmm -- what was it you wrote when you started this silly thread -- oh, yeah: "[rolleyes]"

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@ray.stern @arizonaeagletarian I can see how you can appreciate something you quite obviously don't understand. Unfortunately, you seem quite content to not learn from it. If you get away with making that kind of statement -- declaration of the limits of the other person's beliefs -- in face to face relationships, that's most unfortunate for you.

In this case, that you have to resort to name calling as a defense mechanism, perhaps because you're afraid to learn from constructive criticism, limits you, not me.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@arizonaeagletarian @ray.stern I must not "even understand" that because I'm still pretty sure my sentence in the reply that begins "The only solar story..." is pretty much true.

Believe me, I did "appreciate" the feedback of your 1990s-style "rolleyes" quip and the vague, unsupported remark about this article not being objective. But perhaps I didn't appreciate it in the way you wanted me to. I thought it was a funny, smartass comment from a blindly-pro-solar liberal activist, and I responded in kind. 

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@ray.stern Do you even understand how insanely absurd statements like "The only ____ story you'd find "objective" is one ______ " is? Or do you intentionally do it just to bait people? That's not the first time you've used that kind of construction when you appear not to appreciate the feedback you get. It undermines any claim you make that your anti-solar advocacy is anything close to resembling objective reporting.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@arizonaeagletarian @ray.stern No BS -- but you're invited to explain what you found subjective. You're the guy who thinks Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic is a "shill" for the gas and oil industry, and you once blurted a comment that went something like "Don't give me that BS that solar doesn't work at night." Now that's BS. The only solar story you'd find "objective" is one written by the SEIA. 

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@Serendippdy@ExpertShot@ray.sternAll circumstantial Ray - no journalism here.  I'm a member of MoveOn, and I support quite a few of their programs, I even get to vote on what I want them to do - but it is not MY organization and I do not control it.  It is clear from the organization structure you just put up that neither President Obama, nor his beautiful wife, Michelle, OR HIS DOG Own, Manage, Control or in any way Organizing for Action.  It is simply not true for you to state that OFA is President Obama's organization. He supports their mission and so do I.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@Serendippdy @ExpertShot @ray.stern BTW, the last time someone called me an idiot was when I was in the military boot camp.  Did you used to be a drill sargeant for the Army?  Or are those boots in your closet your mothers?

Serendippdy
Serendippdy

@ExpertShot @ray.stern Expert - are you actually typing this with a straight face? Are you really suggesting that BO and this group are not locked at the hip? I don't think anyone believes Barack or Michelle are "calling the shots" daily, but do you really believe the White House and OFA aren't locked at the hip? If Obama didn't support their actions, why does he allow his face and imagery to be used in all of their activities, including their engagement on net metering here in Arizona? I checked the link -- the call to action has BO's face right on it.

What about this video Michelle recorded for OFA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYT68Uii1dk

Where is OFA based? Chicago.

Who announced formation of OFA? Obama's 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and Michelle Obama, on Jan. 18, 2013. David Axelrod is a senior consultant. Jon Carson left the WH to become the executive director.

National staff include:

Executive Director - Jon Carson (Fmr. White House Director of Public Engagement, 2008)

Senior Advisor - Adrian Saenz (Fmr. Obama for America National Latino Vote Director, 2012)

National Organizing Director - Sara El-Amine (Fmr. Obama for America National Training Director, 2012; Fmr. Obama for America Virgina GOTV Director, 2012)

Director of Issue Campaigns - Lindsay Siler (Fmr. Obama for America North Carolina State Director, 2012)

Immigration Reform Campaign Manager - Emmy Ruiz (Fmr. Obama for America Nevada General Election Director, 2012)

National Data Manager - Matthew Phillips (Fmr. Obama for America Pennsylvania Deputy Data Director, 2012)

See where I'm going with this? You're either an idiot or you're in denial - big time. 

(And this all came from Wikipedia, so you know it's true...)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizing_for_Action

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