Environmentalists Profit Off Promoting Rooftop Solar Panels

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Sierra Club is encouraging its supporters to go green and install solar panels on their homes. But the club’s solar push is not just a charitable act, as they are reaping financial rewards from members who install solar panels.

The environmental group has partnered with the company Sungevity to promote solar panel usage among its members in across the country. For every Sierra Club member that buys solar panels through Sungevity, the environmental group is given $750 that will go towards a local chapter.

“We are partnering with Sungevity because we see this as an easy, affordable way to support the development and deployment of clean energy and help move America beyond dirty fuels,” the Sierra Club says on its website. “Sungevity has an excellent reputation, strong financial backing, and the company shares our commitment to creating a vibrant clean energy economy—that is why they are giving the Sierra Club $750 for every member or supporter who goes solar with them.”

Sungevity says solar energy is not just its business, but also its cause. The company has so far raised $1.5 million for nonprofit groups, like the Sierra Club, who get their members to install solar panels. The company works with 115 nonprofits and says it has offset 322,436 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions — the same as planting 7.5 million trees.

“Every home that we get to go solar, Sungevity gives us $750 back,” Sierra Club Chief of Staff Jesse Simons said in a Sungevity video promoting the campaign. “This has been a great revenue-generating tool for the Sierra Club.”

The Sierra Club is the oldest and one of the most strident environmental groups in the country. In recent years, they have been known for their anti-coal campaign, which takes credits for helping to shut down or shelve hundreds of coal plants and projects in the last few years.

The club also aggressively pushes policies that promote green energy generation. In terms of rooftop solar, which Sungevity deals in, the club pushes for net metering policies that offer generous payments to solar owners who sell power to the electric grid.

Utilities have pushed back against net metering laws because they force them to pay retail rates for solar power sold back onto the grid. This eats into utility revenues, because retail rates are set to pay for the utility’s fixed costs.

In Colorado, Sierra Club activists protested attempts by utilities to roll back net metering rules in a rally in Denver. The club says that 300 members attended, and that 30,000 public comments were submitted to the state public utilities regulator.

The Sierra Club did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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