Kentucky state Rep. Jim Gooch likes to present himself as a country boy from western Kentucky just lookin’ out for the little guy.
That’s why Gooch wants to kill rooftop solar in Kentucky.
Yes, Gooch wants to cut payments to homeowners who sell excess power back to the grid from their rooftop solar installations. That will make solar much more expensive for Kentuckians.
And somehow, the Republican legislator claims this will be good for the ordinary citizen.
Gooch says that low-income folks who can’t afford to get solar panels on their home are forced to subsidize the rich people who can afford solar.
“I will never stand for the poor people who are less fortunate having to subsidize people who have a little better station in life,” Gooch said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
That’s why Gooch is pushing House Bill 227, which would cut net metering payments to Kentuckians by two-thirds, effectively killing the solar industry in the state.
To make his point, Gooch used a homespun anecdote about “Grocer Bob,” as the Courier-Journal reports:
How Bob was delivering him tomatoes “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” and how that was getting expensive.
How Gooch discovered that he could get a tax break on equipment to grow his own tomatoes, and how he started doing that. And then how he was growing so many tomatoes that he needed to get rid of some.
He found out, the story went on, that because of a law he could sell all the tomatoes he didn’t need and that Grocer Bob would be forced to pay him the retail price — thereby cheating Bob of profits.
Just substitute electrons for tomatoes, Gooch said, and you have the current issue over net metering, the arrangement where people in Kentucky with solar panels can get their utilities like LG&E to give them credit at the retail rate for any extra electricity they produce. It’s really cheating the little guy, Gooch argued.
It’s a false analogy. First, tomatoes are not a crucial service to keep the economy and modern civilization running as energy is. That’s why all forms of energy, both clean and dirty, receive subsidies and other assistance from government. Secondly, numerous studies have shown that solar homeowners don’t in fact cost their neighbors without solar any extra. The truth is the exact opposite — net metering actually saves money for people without solar.
As to Gooch’s cornpone story of Grocer Bob, it turns out that this particular homespun anecdote was just counterfeit cracker-barrel wisdom cranked out by corporate PR flacks paid by dirty energy companies.
The tomato anecdote actually came straight from ALEC, the big corporate lobby group based inside the Washington, DC beltway, far from the rolling hills and shimmering lakes of western Kentucky.
Kentucky Rep. Jim Gooch — Just another energy tyrant trying to use his position of power in government to benefit his corporate cronies in monopoly utilities and dirty energy companies while thwarting the will of the people.
Keeping Solar Down in Kentucky
As a relatively southern state, Kentucky has good potential for solar power. Kentucky’s citizens have shown again and again that they want more solar. And they don’t just want utilities to do it. Ordinary Kentuckians want solar on their home rooftops, at their small businesses and on their schools and government buildings.
Yet, sadly, Kentucky ranks poorly for solar versus other states. In 2017 Kentucky ranked #41 nationwide for the amount of solar installed in the state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Of the 23 megawatts worth of solar installed to date in Kentucky, the overwhelming majority is owned by utilities. Only a minuscule sliver is located on home rooftops, as you can see in the chart below from SEIA.
If Kentucky’s citizens had their way, the state would have much more solar, and much more of that would be at home. But first, solar patriots in the state have to win the battle with energy tyrants like Rep. Jim Gooch and the out-of-state invaders who are backing his anti-solar campaign, big national utilities and dirty energy companies.
— Erik Curren, The Solar Patriot