|A Rigged System on the Verge of Collapse|
|Four years ago, in a top-secret gathering in Colorado, the most powerful utility executives in the country met to hear warnings about a growing threat to their dominance over the U.S. energy markets: solar panels
The group also discussed how they could collude to influence local and state governments to help them keep U.S. citizens from getting access to rooftop solar and maintain their government-supported monopoly.
According to a presentation prepared for the group of industry moguls, if demand for residential solar installations continued to grow unchecked, it could mean the death of their businesses as they knew them. The report warned of “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to outright “obsolescence” of utility companies.
Fighting the Future
Ever since, the industry and its fossil fuel supporters have been waging war against their own customers. They’re trying to stop a surge in solar energy generation that could decimate utility companies across the country and finally put an end to their monopoly over energy generation.
They started by pushing for laws that would raise prices for residential solar customers to an astronomical level that would drive the majority of would-be converts away from the idea. More recently, they have focused efforts on fee hikes for solar customers that still use the main electrical grid. These increases are targeted at people like you and me in an effort to put solar panels out of our reach.
Utility companies in Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and other states have already pushed to impose harsh penalties on customers who produce some of their own power with rooftop solar panels. And now, Florida utility companies are trying to add their state to that list.
There’s a proverb that says a tiger is most dangerous when he senses his end is near. And these utility companies, like the aging tiger, are showing their teeth.
Over the past year, they’ve pumped almost $30 million into campaigns against rooftop solar panels in a desperate effort to maintain their monopoly over electricity generation — and maintain the huge paychecks for their executives.
The companies say it’s not about profits but about protecting customers who haven’t opted for solar. But really, these rooftop installations are taking away several of the main ways utilities generate profits.
First, and most obviously, there’s the power they’re not selling to people with solar panels on their roofs. But then there’s also the funding the utility companies get from taxpayers and ratepayers to build new transmission lines and power generation plants. The companies often get paid in advance for building these plants and, in the case of Duke Energy’s nuclear plants in Florida, sometimes don’t even follow through with the construction — they just pocket the money and cancel the project.
In reality, these solar users are helping not only themselves, but non-solar households as well. At times when the grid is most taxed — hot, sunny summer days — the rooftop panels are providing extra energy to the grid, reducing the need to turn on expensive emergency power plants and buy extra energy at higher rates. That’s saving non-solar customers money at the same time it’s helping keep down carbon emissions.
So it’s pretty apparent that this war against solar is really all about maintaining a monopoly and making more money for the executives at these utilities.
An Unwinnable War
But the thing is, they’re fighting a losing battle. In time (and not very much time), energy generated with solar panels is going to be cheaper than energy generated by traditional fossil fuels. And solar panels (which already dropped in cost by more than half since 2010) are going to be even cheaper and more accessible to homeowners. And that is going to lead to a huge change in the way people get their energy.
Think about the phone companies a decade ago — nobody thought landlines would ever become a thing of the past, but now, there are more cell phones on the planet than there are people. With cable Internet, I don’t even have a home phone anymore — it just made more financial sense to go mobile.
That’s exactly what’s going to happen in the electric industry over the coming years. And smart investors are already getting ready.
In fact, members of my investment service, The Wealth Advisory, are well prepared. We’ve invested in the absolute best solar companies out there. We’ve found the top companies generating electricity with solar power and selling it to companies and residents alike. And while those alone will bring us huge profits as the utility industry continues its decline, we’ve even zeroed in on an investment that literally goes up every time the utility industry takes a hit.
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To investing with integrity (and foresight),