Traditionally, conservatives carried the stereotype of being adamantly against solar energy. But is seems that this notion is fading away. That said, whether they are in favor of solar for the right reasons is yet to be determined. One reason some conservative groups are singing a different tune about solar technologies is due to economic benefits, focusing on the security of energy markets so that they adhere to capitalist ideologies and remain free from the tyranny of monopolistic endeavors.
The president of Conservatives for Energy Freedom and the Green Tea Coalition, Debbie Dooley, said, “A lot of conservatives have been conditioned to believe solar is bad or it’s just for tree huggers and the rest. That absolutely is not true.” She also went on to explain that some conservatives view the matter as a way to protect freedom. Energy and utility companies have even been called monopolies controlled by the government, but solar technologies have the power to inject competition into a once static market to provide a defense against these energy companies.
People need energy, plain and simple, and energy companies know it. Essentially, many people share the idea that any investment in utilities was a guaranteed profit with very little risk. But advocating the liberation of our energy market and transitioning it towards a free market is only benefit. They also have another reason for advocating solar technologies: national defense. “Nothing is more centralized in our nation than our power grid, so it is extremely vulnerable to a terrorist attack. It would be easy to attack a centralized structure, but it would be difficult to attack millions of rooftops,” said Dooley.
Unfortunately, as you might expect, they are being met with fierce opposition from parties who are heavily invested in nonrenewable energy sources, such as powerful players like the Koch brothers. For example, there’s a large battle in Nevada against net metering, which essentially reimburses individuals who produce an excess of solar energy from utility companies. “A lot of these fossil-fuel-funded groups are joining forces with the monopolies to stop competition from solar. That’s a battle I don’t shy away from,” said Dooley.
Yet another reason that conservatives are warming up to solar technologies is because of energy independence. Instead of needing to depend on foreign oil resources, we would be able to produce energy on our own. “We can get out of these countries that hate us and control our destiny in this country. We can be independent and use our own natural resources,” said Michele Combs, founder and chairperson of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform.
Shining the Spotlight on Solar Energy
Though many have argued that climate change and renewable energies aren’t getting the attention they deserve in the political realm, conservatives are certainly starting to warm up to solar energy. This is tremendous and exciting news, helping us move one step closer towards ending our dependence on foreign energy sources and lessening our destruction of the natural world – via carbon emissions and harmful mining and distribution processes.