Don't Hinder Solar Panel Use

The following op-ed was published in The Detroit News on March 5, 2019.

As a conservative, I won’t take issue with Nolan Finley’s column (Want to fight warming, just do it," Feb. 27) which explains that people concerned about climate change should make their crusade personal by curtailing their own carbon use.

If you are worried about climate change, what price are you willing to pay personally?

Finley offered this view as editorial pieces were popping up across Michigan falsely portraying citizens who put solar panels on their roof as greedy, rich folks getting a sweetheart deal on the backs of low-income customers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

DTE Energy has a proposal before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) that would punish residential solar owners by adding a new monthly grid charge and cutting by up to 75 percent the rate they pay for a customer’s excess solar energy.

This flies in the face of a 2016 law passed in Lansing requiring a fair and equitable rate for excess energy. It would also drive a stake into the heart of Michigan’s growing solar industry, which has created thousands of new jobs.

Solar panel owners (like myself) and clean energy advocates supported the 2016 law knowing utilities would be paying less for surplus electricity going forward. Solar owners are already paying their share of maintaining the grid. Initial federal subsidies for developing renewable energy like wind and solar were temporary and are phasing out.

As a free market conservative, I’m happy to say these clean energy sources have become cost competitive without subsidies. The bottom line is DTE Energy is a monopoly, intent on controlling the electricity market. They don’t want individuals or small businesses to participate in rooftop solar whether they do it to reduce their energy costs, increase their energy independence or address climate change. The MPSC must reject DTE’s proposal and follow the law calling for fair and equitable rates. Citizens can take action by emailing the MPSC and request that they do so

Edward Rivet II, executive director Michigan Conservative Energy Forum

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