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Oklahoma to tax renewable energy

Solar panels
Solar panels
Photo by Duane Prokop

Oklahoma's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, signed a law Monday that creates a new class of energy consumers. Those who install solar panels or wind turbines, and sell their excess energy back to the grid, will now be charged a monthly fee for providing this service. This law benefits absolutely nobody except the fossil fuel industry.

"We knew nothing about it and all of a sudden it's attached to some other bill," Ctaci Gary, owner of Sun City Oklahoma, told ThinkProgress. "It just appeared out of nowhere."

Because the monthly fee has not yet been determined, Gary doesn't know how this will effect business in the long run. In the short term she plans to get as many new customers as she can, as those who already have a source of renewable energy will be grandfathered in and exempt from the tax.

This could provide a limited boom for business, but ultimately the legislated disincentives may prove too much for a business such as Gary's to remain profitable. This is not the free market, this is legislators writing laws to benefit the corporations currently holding the power. Plain and simply, this sort of legislation does a disservice to the citizens, the renewable energy industry start-ups, the economy and the environment.

This is pure cronyism. The secretive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group backed by fossil fuel corporations, utility companies, and the Koch brothers is behind the push to start charging consumers who have the audacity to produce their own power. This group is exactly what it's name makes it sound like, they introduce politicians to industry powerhouses and facilitate the exchange of legislation for political backing.

ALEC ironically presented Gov. Fallin the Thomas Jefferson Freedom award last summer for her “record of advancing the fundamental Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty as a nationally recognized leader.”

Just to clear the air of any misconceptions here, when you create legislation to penalize consumers who break free from the reliance of a capitalistic industry in favor of another one, that's not free market, it's not limited government, and it most assuredly is not protecting individual liberty.

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