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Friday, July 12, 2013

Solar flare hits Koch brothers' group in Georgia

Side view of Georgia PSC commissioners
Georgia Public Safety Commissioners (L-R) Tim Echols, Doug Everett, Stan Wise, and Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, Jr.
Commissioner Chuck Eaton participated by phone.
 "Americans for Prosperity just lost," said the solar power activist, moments after the Georgia Public Service Commission, a group of five elected Republicans who regulate the state's utilities, voted 3-2, Thursday, to accept an amendment that would add 525 megawatts of solar power for the state's electricity customers over the next 20 years. "AFP Georgia," he added, "is going down."

American for Prosperity is a conservative community activist group funded by Charles and David Koch, whose Koch Industries is in the fossil fuel and power plant business, among other things. They also already have a rather large footprint in the Peach State, where their wholly owned subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and wood products company, is headquartered.

(The Kochs have also lobbied members of Congress not to tax polluters, and sign their "No Climate Tax Pledge.")

The AFP in Georgia was mobilized to take on what should have been a no-brainer in a solidly red state, resistant to new things - to say that solar was too unreliable, too expensive and costs people jobs. They also don't like it because it gets incentives from the Obama administration.
Tea Party Patriots
Tea Party Patriots pose during a break in the PSC proceedings.

But just because the big guys were behind it, it doesn't mean all of the state's conservative groups marched in lockstep with them. The Tea Party Patriots, one of the oldest TP organizations in the country, fell in with the solar industry, to form what original Tea Party co-founder, Debbie Dooley calls a "Green Tea Coalition."

"When this issue first came up," admits Tea Party Patriot, Ed Painter, who attended Thursday's PSC hearing, "I had the same reaction that most conservatives had on solar power, which is absolutely negative. It was uneconomical, uncompetitive crony capitalism." Painter said that this plan is different because it "is a free market plan, where in the end, the consumers stand to benefit greatly." Because of that, he said, "It changed my mind, not on how solar power is done in general, but on this project."

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