Oklahoma is just the latest locality to enact legislation that penalizes individuals for using solar or wind power to supplement power from local utility companies. Oklahoma’s SB1456 requires a person installing solar panels (or any other item that generates power on site, if you can install a windmill, geothermal plant, or hydroelectric generator in your backyard) to pay a ‘tariff’ to the electric company if you remain on-grid.
Okay, you say. When you install solar, you’re prudent to retain your connection to the power distribution infrastructure. You can sell power back to the electric company if you generate more than you use. You have power if your solar doesn’t generate enough to run your home all by itself. And it costs a lot of money to maintain that infrastructure. Never mind that you subsidize a lot of that infrastructure as a citizen through your taxes either directly or by subsidizing the natural gas or coal that runs a lot of traditional power plants.
Well, not okay, I say. Natural gas and coal generate pollution and come from finite reservoirs within the earth. Nobody’s putting them back. An adherent of an apocalyptic religion might feel the world will end before we run out of oil, natural gas, and coal. Well, hypothetical adherent, I don’t share that belief and I’d prefer to hedge that bet, thankyouverymuch.
Discouraging people from shifting to renewable energy is a disservice to the future. I know, I know, we’ve built up a system that urges us not to worry about tomorrow. Too many of us live for the moment in a bad way, unable to distinguish it from the good kind of living for today that urges us to not worry ourselves to distraction and death about things we can’t anticipate, yet plan and prepare for what we can. Too many of us think, ‘hey, I’ll be dead by the time it matters, so why should I worry?’
I don’t know what to tell you, if you don’t care about what happens in the future, if you don’t care about what kind of world we’re leaving to our great-great grandchildren/nieces/nephews or simply fellow human beings who haven’t been born yet. I don’t know how to address that degree of insularity, how to turn around the ‘screw you future buddy, I’ve got mine’ attitude that doesn’t see a need to knock off burning the fossil fuels to run cars and factories and cool computers that fit in the palm of your hand (and I’m not knocking them, I enjoy the hell out of my smartphone).
I simply don’t know what to say to the people who think we shouldn’t switch to clean sources of power that damage the environment far less than fossil fuels and which are quite capable of running our present electric civilization and then some the same way it’s been sustaining a planet full of plants and proto-plants for about three and a half billion years now.
Stop being a short-sighted jerk?