To the editor:

There is a new TV ad paid for by REAL Coalition Ia., asking the public to support HSB 185/SSB 1201 that will fix the so-called unfair, outdated solar energy policies in Iowa. The bill will allow utility companies to charge a fee if a customer has their own solar or wind power, using the premise that solar hookups use the connections without paying for them. The producers already charge connection fees, even if a customer uses power or not or produces power or not. I’m personally paying $30.50 per month just for the hookup, even if I don’t use any power. Other utilities have different charges, but all have flat fees paying for the maintenance of the hookups.

This bill will just add an extra fee to discourage private citizens, rural or city — a user fee for lost profits because of new free enterprise competition. This bill would hurt the many farmers that have started to install solar or wind to offset the higher prices of rural utilities. A farm is an ideal site for solar options, as a farm has more land and is less intrusive to neighbors. Farmers adding renewable power will help defray the higher cost of rural power caused by low density users, which costs more per square mile. Farmers are on a tight budget and must use every option to keep in business.

This is un-American, forcing someone to pay companies if you’re not buying their product or making the product ourselves. This will also discouraging the development of renewable clean power that will aid in the protection of the environment. It’s interesting who the Real Coalition Ia. that is paying for this is. They are a part of a group, including the 10th Amendment Project, 45 Committee and Accountable New York, all located out of state. The Omaha World-Herald reported a dark money group, The 10th Amendment Project, was buying ads targeting Nebraska State Legislature candidates, based out of Herndon, Va. The 45 Committee, Inc., a nonprofit organization that spent more than $21 million boosting President Donald Trump during the final month of the 2016 election, was financed by more than $46 million raised from a small group of megadonors, including 11 who wrote checks of $1 million or more. The average contribution received by the organization was $2.3 million during the time period covered by the filing, April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. Then the New York Post reported a newly formed conservative advocacy group, Accountable New York, is going to try to defeat Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The REAL Coalition professes to be for Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state, implying they are Iowans. REAL might represent businesses, but only big business; they sure are not representing consumers, and especially not farmers. They say they are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit REAL Coalition advocates. They are a long way from nonpartisan and very deceiving. They are not Iowans, but an outside group for hire using dark money, just like Russian hackers did. Good luck finding who these groups are and who belongs to them and heads them. The Omaha World-Herald never could interview them — whomever they are. In my opinion, this group was hired to defend the large utilities and hurt the farmers and people just wanting to provide for themselves.

Ken Blackledge