What’s the first thing you think of when you hear someone say Arizona?

Heat? Sunlight?

Well, apparently some of Arizona’s leaders don’t want solar power, even though there is plenty of sunlight year round.

If you live in the Phoenix area and want to take advantage of all the sunlight with solar power, the local utility might be against you. Reportedly, the Salt River Project has a proposed a new rate plan that increases consumer costs by $600 per year, if you have your own solar power system.

Part of the plan is to decrease the amount the utility pays when home solar systems are feeding excess electricity back to the grid. Home owners get credits when this happens that reduce their bills. If the rate is decreased, homeowners won’t get as much back and so will pay more on their utility bills.

They also want to charge a flat fee to access the grid, but all homeowners are already connected to the grid, so home solar power owners don’t deserve to pay extra. There is no point in punishing them for investing in clean, renewable electricity. Actually, they should be supported and commended.

One issue with utilities is that they have had dominance over consumers in the past and have made a lot of money due to it. Now, when solar power comes along and homeowners start acquiring the capacity to generate their own electricity, the utilities can’t be expected to like it, but some of them seem to want to preserve the status quo by hurting their customers.

Discouraging homeowners and business owners from investing in solar power — especially since the costs have dropped so dramatically — is essentially blocking progress itself. Such measures also reduce individual freedoms.

Arizona is typically a Republican state and Republicans often rail against any reduction in personal freedoms and interfering with the free market. That is exactly what some utility companies are doing when they punish home and business owners that want to generate their own electricity with solar power. At one point in the past, Arizona seemed more open to solar power and investment, but that receptivity seems to have waned.

Florida is another Republican state that is resisting solar power even though it has plenty of free sunshine. What is going on?