Keep Big Government Away from Solar Free Market Competition
By Barry Goldwater, Jr.
Conservatives nationwide stand for fundamental principles such as competition, property rights, and lower taxes, and the people of Arkansas are no exception. With that in mind, you can imagine my dismay upon learning that Arkansas’s monopolist utilities are trying to attack these principles by eliminating the rooftop solar industry. Rooftop solar delivers electricity choice and competition, and gives Arkansans the ability to reduce their energy bills by powering their homes from their own roofs. Now, unless vetoed by Governor Hutchinson, House Bill 1004 threatens to upset the apple cart by imposing government mandates and new fees on solar customers.
Like school choice and health care choice, solar choice offers competition that conservatives support – an alternative to the incumbent monopoly system. Today, Arkansans have the right and the ability to choose solar. The system in place is strong and stable, but utilities don’t like it because it’s the only true form of competition they have ever faced. They are attacking it by trying to charge high monthly fees (or taxes) on any customer who wants to install solar. Conservatives stand for less taxation, not more. Arkansas utilities and state legislators that want to impose fees and taxes on solar customers are contradicting core American values, and taking more money from the people of Arkansas.
A growing solar industry also supports property rights, another American value. Arkansans should be able to decide what they do with their own roofs. Current policies support that right. Big Government changes to our property rights are unnecessary and encroach on our very way of life.
By upholding core rooftop solar policies, Arkansas and our entire nation not only respect the American way, but also benefit from flourishing innovation, job creation and price competition. We have seen this in solar jobs numbers. States with stable net metering policies host thousands of jobs that cannot be outsourced – more than 80,000 new jobs since 2010. One out of every 78 new jobs created in 2014 was in the solar industry, and that growth will continue every year. Arkansas is poised to benefit from local, well-paying solar jobs if it maintains pro-business policies.
If we maintain the existing net metering policy, solar can create jobs and boost Arkansas’s economy. We cannot let monopoly utilities tax it out of existence. Please join me in asking Governor Hutchinson to veto HB 1004 so that solar choice can continue working for you, and for the future of Arkansas.