The Eurasian Policy & Energy Hub

Politics has been hamstringing America’s solar industry — and now politics is poised to do the same with Poland’s wind energy.

Such short-sightedness will of course prolong the dominance of dirty-fuel sources.

A number of U.S. utilities, alarmed at solar’s threat to their businesses, have sent their lobbyists scurrying to state capitals to persuade legislators to pass bills that prevent solar from reaching its potential at utilities’ expense.

Some of the laws allow utilities to slap electricity-grid-use fees on customers whose solar installations have reduced their monthly utility bills. Other laws restrict the amount of unused power that solar customers can sell to utilities, or reduce the rates that utilities must pay for such power.

The laws help companies that sell coal and gas to utilities, but prevent pollution from fossil fuels from declining as much as it should.

Now the lower house of Poland’s parliament has passed a bill that would prevent the wind-power industry from reaching its potential as quickly as it can, and thus reduce utility-generated pollution.

The legislation is aimed at protecting the coal industry, a big Polish employer that has been losing money as the world shifts to cleaner fuel.

One provision of the legislation would require wind parks to be built further from homes, which the industry says would limit the number of new projects.

Wind-power companies and environmentalists say the legislation would undermine Poland’s renewables leadership. Last year the country added the second-highest amount of wind power in Europe.

Before the legislation becomes law, it must pass the Senate and be signed by the president. Both are in the hands of the conservative Law and Justice Party, however, so enactment is a foregone conclusion.

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