Today, the Florida Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments on the solar power ballot initiative. Leading the charge against the initiative that would give homeowners the right to choose solar power are — you guessed it — the Koch brothers. Koch-backed groups 60 Plus Association, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity have all been working against the expansion of solar and pushing for more regulations in the state.
Today’s hearing is a reminder that despite their claims of wanting less government interference, the billionaire brothers are more than willing to push more regulations if it helps their bottom line.
Read more of our coverage on the Kochs’ hypocritical opposition to solar power, particularly in Florida.
Today, the Obama administration is rolling out new solar power executive actions. The National Journal reports that the White House is working with the private sector “to help underserved communities power their homes with solar energy while expanding opportunities for Americans to get jobs in the solar industry.” The initiative is expected to help boost the solar industry and reduce consumer energy costs — the exact thing Koch Industries doesn’t want to happen.
The Kochs’ record for pushing for more regulation for solar power reveals their greedy motivations. Every time the brothers tout their “free market” values, they’re really just pushing their own profit-driven agenda. Using the Koch-financed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch’s political long arm Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the billionaires have advocated for legislation across the country that put up road blocks for the market’s expansion.
Legislation to make net metering illegal or more costly has been introduced in nearly two dozen state houses since 2013. Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit organization with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.
AFP and ALEC have also campaigned together to repeal renewable energy standards in an effort to push back solar energy, but their proposals were largely rejected, and they’ve been met with resistance in their own party. They face tough opposition from the Tea Party, including one of the parties earliest organizers, Debbie Dooley.
Debbie Dooley, a Georgia-based tea party leader and founder of Conservatives For Energy Freedom, accused the AFP of “hypocrisy” on the issue of solar power.
“AFP is supposed to espouse free-market principles, but they’re trying to prevent Floridians from engaging in commerce in a free-market manner,” Dooley told The Huffington Post. “They are resorting to outright lies.”
Dooley accused the group of kowtowing to its corporate benefactors rather than the will of the people, as the Koch brothers made much of their money off fossil fuels. “You don’t throw your principles out the window to benefit your corporate benefactors,” she said.
The Kochs’ history with solar power shows how deep their hypocrisy runs. The White House’s latest actions are sure to spur a renewed effort by the brothers — maybe this time they’ll go with a Mr. Burns-style shade in hopes of blocking out the sun altogether.
This week the Kochs were vilified in a Gainesville Sun editorial for their greedy efforts to stave off threats to their oil and gas empire. The paper blames Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ political arm, for an obscure regulation that limits the expansion of solar power in the Sunshine State.
Florida is one of five states that has a law on the books prohibiting residents from selling power from solar panels installed on homes or businesses — instead consumers can only buy electricity directly from utilities. The Gainesville Sun pins the ban on AFP’s intense lobbying efforts to protect their fossil fuel fortune. The paper points to overwhelming evidence that the expansion of solar energy would save money, reduce fossil-fuel emissions, and create jobs.
Time and time again, the Koch brothers’ self-interested actions proved to be beneficial to their bottom line at the expense of hardworking Floridians. As part of the mandate to expose Koch tactics, this month Bridge Project released a report titled Florida Man Buys State: Koch Impacts in the Sunshine State. It’s a comprehensive look at the billionaire brothers political maneuvering in the key swing state. The report includes an outline of Koch efforts to squash a ballot initiative that would allow businesses to sell power to property owners directly.
“The Koch Brothers are so singularly dedicated to their bottom line that AFP even drew the ire of other conservative groups by opposing a proposed ballot initiative with broad support that would open Florida up to the solar industry, a move that would threaten Koch’s oil and gas operations,” says the report. “Conservatives for Energy Freedom co-founder Debby Dooley criticized AFP’s efforts by saying, ‘You don’t throw your principles out the window to benefit your corporate benefactors.’”
The Koch machine is working overtime to rig the system in their favor — even in the face of commonsense reforms like expanding solar energy in the Sunshine State.