On Taxing the Sun


https://www.kqed.org/perspectives/201601141773/andrew-lewis-taxing-the-sun

The latest on KQED. And of course there are lots of nuances to the current situation, far more than can fit in 300 words. But I’d love to discuss if any one has questions.

In 1696, a British government desperate for revenue imposed a tax on windows. In response, the English people chose to board up their houses, closing themselves in darkness. Windows allow sunlight and fresh air into homes. The sun and light belong not to us, one might reason, but to God. How could any people in their right mind tax God?

In 2011, frustrated by governmental inaction over climate change, our family decided to do what we could to help transition our beloved state to a clean energy future. We paid dearly to install a 7-kilowatt hour solar system. It would power our house. And it would power our car. Any excess power was sent back onto the grid to be consumed by our neighbors before it even reached the end of our block. 

In 2022, PG&E and other utilities have pushed forward a plan with the California Public Utility Commission that would penalize homeowners for installing solar panels. These new rules would allow bad-faith actors to once again monopolize power generation. Under the new rules, a family such as ours, which uses little power from the grid, and in fact provides power to others, would now be charged an additional $600 per year. 

Not much, it seems has changed between 1696 and 2022. By taxing homeowners for installing solar panels, the CPUC plan would punish average citizens, taxing them for that which is freely given by nature. They would, you might say, be levying a fine against God. Rather than moving us toward a clean energy future, our utility companies that are supposed to serve, instead are leading us into darkness.

With a Perspective, this is Andrew Lewis.

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