Saturday, October 4, 2014

What do APS, Rush Limbaugh Haters, and the Middle East Nation of Qatar Have in Common?

These days APS could stand for Astroturf Political Support. During the solar debate of 2013, APS operatives bought thousands of Twitter followers from Russia, and anti-solar letters poured into the Arizona Corporation Commission without verified email addresses.

The tactic isn’t new or original. There is an Astroturf campaign currently being waged against Rush Limbaugh. You can read about it here. Conservative researchers discovered that only 10 people were behind a series of tweets targeting Limbaugh’s advertisers.

And while we expect this sort of behavior from people trying to censor the airwaves, one would think a public utility would show more class.

 As APS now tries to extend its monopoly into the rooftop solar energy market in Arizona expect APS Astroturf to start sprouting like winter lawns.

Who else dabbles in Astroturfing? The little-known nation of Qatar, who came under fire last week for an Astroturf campaign to show support for its highly contested bid to host the World Cup in 2022. Their actions instead served to highlight the fact that everyone who isn’t Qatari or paid by the Qatari government objects to the corrupt process that led to Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup. Here is a link to the story.

APS and Qatar have even more in common. Both have a history of attacking the solar industry. Qatar is majority-owner in a German solar company, Solar World, that has spent years trying to levy devastating tariffs on solar panels. You can read about it here. In short, a Middle Eastern nation whose economy depends on oil exports is now trying to drive the independent solar energy industry out of business by hiding behind a solar energy company it finances.

APS is trying to do the same thing by using ratepayer dollars to get into the rooftop solar market. The end game is to force private sector solar out of business. If APS really believed in solar, then it would establish an independent company and get into the market without relying on ratepayer money and guaranteed profits. It’s time for APS to ditch the Astroturf and stand on its own two feet, or move to Qatar.

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