solar guerrilla
(SOH.lur guh.ril.uh) n. A person who uses an alternative energy source such as solar power to illegally direct electricity back to the public utility grid.
guerrilla solar adj.

Example Citation:
Still, in 13 states and parts of the other 37 (depending on the utility carrier), people don't have legal access to net metering. Some consumers in those places are joining a clandestine "solar guerrilla" movement — members feed solar power onto the grid without the permission or knowledge of the utility, spinning back their meters but receiving no compensation for the excess power.
—David Kirby, "Net Metering," The New York Times, December 15, 2002

Earliest Citation:
The Guerrilla Solar Manifesto states that all energy is freely and democratically provided by nature, and that the monopolization of energy by utilities threatens our environment and our planet. In sum:

"We, the Solar Guerrillas of this planet, therefore resolve to place energy made from sunshine, wind and falling water on this planet's utility grids with or without permission from utilities or governments. We resolve to share this energy with our neighbors without regard for financial compensation. We further resolve that our renewable energy systems will be safe and will not harm utility workers, our neighbors or our environment."
—Laurie Guevera-Stone, "Basics of Grid-Tied PV," Mother Earth News, February 1, 2001

Also:

For those wishing to generate some or all of their own electrical power, an additional source of real excitement this year centers around new controller-inverters (which change solar panel-generated 12 or 24 volt DC power into 120 volt AC household current) that make it possible to plug alternative energy sources directly into the grid and get paid for our production. . . . These units incorporate all the controls we need to be our own utility, allowing small independent power producers (IPPs) to actually pump excess power back into the grid. Since most electric meters are simple electromechanical devices which turn whichever way the current flows, guerrilla power producers can simply install one of these units and spin electric meters backwards without the utility's knowledge. Because of real dangers to utility workers and the federal fines of up to $ 30,000 per incident, we do not recommend this course.
—Michael Potts and Matt Scanlon, "The future of solar is now," Mother Earth News, August 1995

Notes:
Recall from yesterday's post that net metering means tracking a building's electricity use as the net difference between the public power it consumes less the solar or wind power it generates. This works well in places where the public energy utility has a net metering program set up. Unfortunately, as the example citation says, net metering isn't legal in all U.S. states, and it's not set up in most countries, either.

That angers some activists who complain about dithering governments and greedy utility companies. To fight back, some of them go right ahead and feed their excess alternative energy back to the public grid and happily watch their meters spin in reverse. Since most of these alternative energy sources use solar power, these activists call themselves solar guerrillas or the guerrilla solar movement.

Related Words:

Categories: