Tag Archives: solar power

City of Huntsville Reportedly Threatens Veteran with Arrest for Living off the Grid

Huntsville, AL military veteran Tyler Truitt answered the call to defend the rights of all Americans during his service to his country but is now being forced to defend his own right to live a self-sustaining lifestyle on his property. According to WAFF-TV, Truitt and his girlfriend Soraya Hamar currently reside on their own land in Huntsville, where they have lived off-the-grid successfully through the winter, using rainwater, composting, and solar energy as an alternative to city utilities. However, the City of Huntsville is suing Truitt in an effort to condemn the property, citing city codes requiring potable drinking water and a sewage connection and banning trailers without a permit.

They came and they condemned our house and told us if we stayed here we’d be arrested for trespassing on our own property, and the reason why is, they said, it was unsafe living conditions because we don’t have city utilities hooked up,” said Truitt. “I took an oath that I would support and defend the Constitution and the freedoms that entails, and I really feel like those are being trampled upon.

Truitt and Hamar intend to fight the condemnation of their property at an upcoming July 29 court appearance and have indicated that they are willing to face arrest if authorities attempt to force them off of their land. “You have to stand up for what you believe in. They could come out here today if they wanted to and take us to jail for trespassing if that’s what they want to call it and, you know, that’d be fine with me. I’ll still come back the next day and the next day and the next day because it’s my home and because I live here. Where else am I supposed to go really?” said Truitt.

Truitt pointed out the facts that the trailer on the property is not visible from the street and that they have access to all of the normal features of a typical home. “We’ve got things normal people have, we have a TV, a fridge, a microwave, stuff like that.

Kelly Schrimsher, spokesperson for Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, said, according to WAFF-TV, “Apparently he has chosen to live an alternative lifestyle and that’s great, people can choose to live different ways but if you live in the city of Huntsville you do have to abide by our laws and ordinance. It’s about the health and public safety of our citizens, so you must have a sanitary sewer, you must have potable running water. There are certain requirements that are there to protect our citizens through the winter.

Schrimsher added, “I’m sure there are other areas and properties in the country that if you wanted to choose a different lifestyle you could do so.

Truitt has called on supporters of property rights and off-the-grid living to contact city officials and urge a change in policy.

Solar Subsidies Could Let Musk Double-Dip

By By Peter Fricke 

Elon Musk has made millions from government solar panel subsidies, and may have found a way to make even more if rumors Tesla will soon introduce a whole-home battery are true.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and chairman of solar panel manufacturer SolarCity, set off a wave of anxious speculation Monday when he tweeted that “[a] major new Tesla product line—not a car” would be unveiled on April 30.

Neither Musk nor Tesla have confirmed any details about the new product, but according to The Motley Fool, many observers believe the new product will be a home battery capable of storing electricity produced by solar panels.

Musk told investors during a February conference call Tesla would begin production of a home battery within about six months, and further reinforced expectations with a second tweet, in which he said, “With all that solar power being generated, it almost feels like something is needed to complete the picture …”

Many experts, however, claim much of the reason for all that solar power being generated is that state and federal subsidies make rooftop solar panels affordable in the first place. (RELATED: Solar Industry Demands Extension of Subsidies)

In an op-ed for Townhall, for instance, Ken Blackwell asserts that, “Very few people would install these rooftop solar systems at all if not for the federal tax break that comes with it,” which takes the form of a 30 percent non-refundable tax credit known as the solar investment tax credit.

Even the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group, acknowledges as much on its website, noting that, “the residential and commercial solar ITC has helped annual solar installation grow by over 1,600 percent since the ITC was implemented in 2006.”

Another program that acts as an implicit subsidy for solar is net metering, which requires power companies to purchase excess solar from homeowners at the same price they charge their retail customers. Most states have their own net metering policies, and since 2005, federal law has required all public electric utilities to offer net metering to their solar customers on request.

Electric companies complain that net metering ignores the cost of operating and maintaining power grids, which they say accounts for about one-third of the price they charge for electricity. Because solar customers use the grid whenever they buy or sell power, the utilities argue net metering allows solar users to use the grid as a battery without contributing toward operating costs, forcing them to raise rates on other customers. (RELATED: Low-Income, Minority Households Bear Costs of Solar Subsidies)

According to a study from the University of Colorado at Boulder conducted by Chrystie Burr, “most of the investments in solar power systems wouldn’t have been made without the … upfront subsidy and the residential renewable energy tax credit.”

Similarly, a study by Kenneth Reddix II of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concludes that in California, “over 54 percent of all purchases would have not occurred … in the absence of government subsidies.” (RELATED: Europe’s Green Energy Industry Faces Collapse as Subsidies are Cut)

If Tesla’s new product does turn out to be a home battery, as is widely expected, Musk will stand to profit twice from those subsidies—once from SolarCity’s sales of the subsidized panels, and then again from Tesla’s sale of home batteries to the same customers.

“Elon Musk is making a big play for American solar and all the subsidies that go along with it,” an energy industry consultant told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “If you’re getting millions from the federal government and a subsidized power grid, you might as well keep offering related products.”

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