The Alliance for Solar Choice has become one of the louder voices in Hawaii in recent months, in particular as a leading critic of the proposed merger between NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries.

TASC recently released a public opinion poll that purported, among other things, to show that people in Hawaii are opposed to the merger and that Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission nosedived in the approval ratings when they came out against net metering, a program that allowed those with solar energy systems to substantially lower their costs compared to those without solar.


But political experts questioned the poll as strongly biased, especially because of the way the questions were worded.

TASC, which recently sued the PUC for its decision to end net metering, is funded by big solar companies — notably Sunrun. Its spokesman in Hawaii is Robert Harris, the former director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, now director of public policy at Sunrun.

NextEra officials have argued that solar companies and TASC are opposing the merger because its not in the best interests of their business. Solar companies need electric rates to stay high so people will want to buy their solar systems, the argument goes.

Thus they are unhappy with the pull back from net metering because solar becomes less of a good deal. And in fact, a recent story from California noted that another big solar player, Sun City, might be forced out of business there if California follows Hawaii’s lead and ends net metering. Solar City used to be one of the big players in TASC but pulled out of the group earlier this year.

So this story on the industry watchdog site, Utility Drive, caught my eye this morning — “Is TASC splintering the rooftop solar industry?

It seems TASC has become a major player in utility issues throughout the country, including intervening in cases before various public utility commissions, as it has done here in Hawaii.

But all is not sunny in the solar industry, it turns out, and other industry groups as well as regulators are questioning TASC’s political pressure tactics.

“TASC’s backers say its tactics get results, but others decry its behavior in regulatory dockets as counterproductive to utility-solar dialogue,” Utility Drive reports.

Read the full story here, which includes an interesting look at TASC’s involvement in Hawaii, Arizona and Maine, as well as what’s happening nationally.

About the Author