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Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States, Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 9, 2014

Walton Family Undermining Rooftop Solar, ILSR Report Finds

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/walton-report/

placeholderThe Walton family — majority owners of Walmart — are impeding America’s transition to a clean energy future, a new study by ILSR finds.  At a time when more than 500,000 households and businesses are generating their own solar electricity, and the U.S. solar industry is employing 143,000 people, the Waltons are funding nearly two dozen organizations working to roll back renewable energy policies, while a Walton-owned company is pushing for regulations aimed at hindering the growth of rooftop solar power.

Download:  Full Report |  Press Release

image: report coverRooftop solar — which is spreading rapidly thanks to favorable economics and strong state policies — offers a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable power, save money for households, and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Because it’s revolutionizing who owns and profits from electricity generation, rooftop solar is seen as threat by many utilities and fossil fuel companies.  They are now campaigning in multiple states to weaken policies that enable rooftop solar. They have begun to score wins, including a victory in Arizona, where regulators granted the state’s largest utility, APS, the right to impose fees on households with rooftop solar.  Since then, rooftop installations have fallen by 40 percent.  Arizona is now one of only five states where the number of solar jobs is actually declining.

While journalists have begun to expose the powerful interests, including the Koch brothers, behind these campaigns, the involvement of another wealthy family — the Waltons, heirs to the Walmart fortune and majority owners of the company’s stock — has gone unnoticed. This report finds:

  • Since 2010, the Waltons have donated $4.5 million to more than 20 organizations, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity, and the American Enterprise Institute, which are leading the state campaigns against clean energy.
  • A Walton-owned solar company, First Solar, was instrumental in helping APS win in Arizona, backing the utility even as the rest of the solar industry joined environmental and consumer groups in opposing the new fees. First Solar builds solar arrays for utilities and, as such, stands to benefit if households are blocked from generating their own electricity, even if it means slowing the overall growth of solar.
  • First Solar also helped instigate a World Trade Organization proceeding that could force several U.S. states to repeal laws that use solar incentives to spur local job creation. First Solar does most of its manufacturing in Malaysia.

The findings of this report are significant in part because of what’s at stake for our energy system. This report also offers an instructive case study of the complexities of contemporary green-washing. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on May 1, 2014

Amazon’s Big Assist from Government

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/amazons-big-assist-government/

A new study finds Amazon’s sales drop in states where it is required to collect sales taxes, revealing what Jeff Bezos has undoubtedly known for years: the company’s success, its track record of shuttering local businesses, is as much a product of government favoritism as it is of its own ingenuity. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Banking, Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 16, 2014

Understanding the Small Business Credit Crunch

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/understanding-small-business-credit-crunch/

Even as their big competitors are awash in capital, many locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow. A new ILSR analysis has found that, since 2000, bank lending to large businesses is up 36 percent, while small business loan volume has fallen 14 percent and “micro” business loans — those under $100,000 — have plummeted 33 percent. To shed light on this problem and help inform policy discussions, ILSR has published an overview of the small business lending landscape. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 25, 2014

A Trojan Carrot

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/trojan-carrot/

Walmart already controls more than 25 percent of the U.S. grocery market. With its latest organic scheme, it’s aiming to control even more. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 1, 2014

Two Big-Box Decisions Show How Smart Planning Policies Protect Good Jobs

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/smart-planning-policies-protect-good-jobs-cities-vote-big-boxes/

Although few cities take full advantage of them, planning and zoning powers are among the most potent tools communities have for shaping their economies. Two recent decisions, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, underscore why land use planning matters and how smart policies can strengthen the local economy and protect good jobs. Continue reading