In their quest to cripple solar power and protect the profits of their fossil fuels-based businesses, the Koch brothers have run into an unexpected and potent adversary: tea party conservatives.
Recently, I wrote about how the billionaire Koch boys, conservative state legislators and big utilities are leading the charge in several states to force private citizens with solar panels on their homes to pay extra fees to be connected to the power grid. At the time it looked as if they had won a big victory in Oklahoma, where the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill authorizing just such a fee scheme. It turns out all the hard work of the anti-solar forces was immediately blunted by an executive order issued by Gov. Mary Fallin.
The order directs the state energy commission to impose solar fees only as a last resort and to continue making expansion of solar power a priority. The question is how a Republican governor in a deep red state can go against the Kochs, the most notable financial contributors to right wing causes in the country. The answer is that among the thousands of people who are installing solar panels on their roofs (at an estimated rate of one new system every four minutes) are a whole bunch of independent-minded folks with strong libertarian impulses. They may or may not belong to the tea party, but they want to be able to fend for themselves without big government or big business telling them what they can and can’t do.