It hangs in air and glistens a rainbow sheen on top of water — it’s the true cost of using coal powered electricity, which states like California have become all too aware of when calculating the promising ROI of home solar installations and other renewables.
To offset the broader financial burdens of the negative environmental side effects of fossil fuels, California levies an extra $15 per megawatt hour on coal-fueled electric power purchased from out of state.
Recently however California’s decision to economically encourage homeowners to go solar has come under fire from its neighbor. As of last week, Utah lawmakers approved a proposal that would set aside state taxpayer money to sue California over policies that make imported coal-powered electricity more expensive.
Utah Republican legislators argued that the suit was to stop California from pushing it’s values of clean energy on Utah.
The Associated Press recently quoted California Air Resource Board spokesman Stanley Young’s rebuttal to the lawsuit: “California’s cap and trade program is designed to reduce climate-changing gases and rewards electricity with lower carbon pollution used by Californians — regardless of where that electricity comes from.”
As one of the few states remaining that still offers solar rebates, it makes sense California would incentivise homeowners to generate clean power by making out of state coal power more expensive.
Many Utah constituents and proponents of clean energy have expressed antagonism towards the attempted lawsuit as well.
“This would be a gross waste of Utah taxpayer dollars.” Ashley Soltysiak, Utah chapter director for the Sierra Club told the Associated Press. “This is lawsuit is ridiculous.”
The general consensus that the lawsuit stands a slim chance of winning can be seen as a promising sign of the times. Despite the fact that there is an administration in the White House that is bullish on fossil fuels, the reality about the energy source’s true soc-economic costs has become more difficult to sweep under the rug.