24 October 2013 – This is possibly the moment that the planet has been waiting for. In an thrilling article in The Daily Beast, Tea Party Patriots and co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, Debbie Dooley, reveals why she is supporting the green energy movement.

Call it fighting “Big Energy and its government cronies who conspire to strangle competition, distort the market, and hold consumers hostage is precisely the sort of crusade that should fire up the movement,” the article says.

“This is about energy freedom. Energy choice!” explains Dooley. “We want to allow green energy companies to compete in the market. Let the market decide what’s best. It’s pro-consumer!”

“Conservatives need to be leading this effort!” she insists. For starters, she notes, Big Energy—especially utility monopolies like Georgia Power—have too much centralised power. Solar energy, by contrast, is highly decentralised. This not only puts more power in the hands of individuals who install their own solar cells, it opens up the possibility of allowing people to come off the power grid altogether.

Defence implications

This has national security implications, contends Dooley, pointing to a 2007 Department of Homeland Security study examining the risks of a terrorist attack on the grid.

Look at the coal subsidies

Then there’s the matter of subsidies. “People are hypocritical when they say, “Ooooh, Solyndra. Look at the subsidies solar receives!’” says Dooley. “But they’re silent on the subsidies coal and nuclear have received since the 1940s.” Dooley’s preference: strip away all the subsidies, level the playing field, and let the market—not the government—pick winners and losers.

As is often the case, Dooley’s latest cause has local roots. Over the past few years, she has grown increasingly annoyed with Georgia Power and its parent, Southern Co. Of particular irritation was a 2009 bill allowing GP to charge customers for the financing costs of expanding Southern Co.’s nuclear power Plant Vogtle well before the new reactors were finished, followed by a 2011 bill overturning a 40-year ban on monopoly utilities contributing directly to political campaigns.

“Regulators on the all-Republican commission voted 3-2 in favor of a plan that requires Atlanta-based Georgia Power Co. to increase its solar power capacity by 525 megawatts by the end of 2016. The decision comes on the heels of the announcement that Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co., is planning to retire more than 2,000 megawatts worth of coal-fired generating capacity.

“The vote in Georgia is notable not just for the commonsense outcome of adding more cost-effective renewable energy in a state ranked fifth in the nation for solar potential but just 21st for installed solar capacity. The real surprise here, after more than a year of often acrimonious debate, is the nearly unprecedented coalition that made the decision possible – a mixture of not just environmentalists and solar advocates but also conservative lawmakers and Tea Party members.”

he latter groups in particular had to face down a barrage of misinformation from Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded and underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers, whose predecessor organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, virtually founded the Tea Party itself. AFP’s Georgia chapter mounted a scare campaign against solar power in Georgia that, as usual, supported the Koch’s bottom line as fossil fuel magnates even as it played fast and loose with the facts.

Virginia Galloway, director of AFP’s Georgia chapter, for instance, warned the group’s 50,000 members that the solar proposal would “reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home” and could increase Georgia electricity rates by up to 40 percent. As the Associated Press pointed out, neither of these claims bore much resemblance to the truth. In fact, at the hearing before the vote, Kevin Greene, Georgia Power’s attorney, said that the utility didn’t believe the solar requirement would cause any increase in electricity prices for ratepayers.

All of which underscores the really surprising part: even the Tea Party faithful didn’t seem to be buying the AFP line this time around. Despite the mass emails, handouts, and phone calls put out by AFP’s Georgia chapter, when the group held a protest during the Public Service Commission deliberations, hardly anyone showed up.

What’s more, a separate branch of the Tea Party in Georgia, known as the Tea Party Patriots, came out strongly in favor of more solar power in the state. Debbie Dooley, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots told the press: “AFP Georgia is putting out absolutely false data,” that doesn’t take into account the fact that “solar prices have plummeted” in recent years. Dooley quipped that her group was forming “a Green Tea Coalition” because it saw the proposed solar expansion as a free market issue that “gives consumers more choice.”

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