Time To End Taxpayer Funding Of Solar Power, by Ray Farrell

Time To End Taxpayer Funding Of Solar Power, by Ray Farrell

Published: Feb 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Just when you thought big Government over-reach in Pennsylvania would end with the Republicans at the helm in Harrisburg…think again.  Special interest pay-to-play politics are alive and well as HB.1580, the “Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act”, moves through the halls of Harrisburg.  This bill will change the original and similarly named act of 2004 that Governor Rendell signed into law.  This law was later amended in 2007 and is now predictably failing.

This bill will force private utility companies like PECO to purchase Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) from the solar “collective” and subsidize them in perpetuity.  This law will mandate annual increases of these required “portfolio” certificates that a utility must purchase and the cost will be passed on to you and me through higher electric bills.

It’s not rocket science as to why the original “Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act” of 2004 predictably failed. Solar panels produce very small amounts of energy and their cost per kilowatt-hour is 10-times higher than traditional sources.  Because of its northern latitude and prevailing weather, Pennsylvania is a very poor candidate for the production of solar power.  Our State averages about 200 cloudy and overcast days per year. There are 8,760 clock hours in a year.  This leaves only 1,980 hours of sunlight per year for this passive trickle of energy to pay for its immense cost and justify its large footprint.

The dirty little secret is that solar systems in Pennsylvania only function for about 22% of the time and their associated battery storage facilities produce future environmentally hazardous waste.

Compare this feeble idea with our clean nuclear, coal, and natural gas power-plants which supply us with massive amounts of reliable and usable high-voltage…24-hours a day.

Most disturbing is this cap-and-trade-like bill doesn’t “sunset” and has an estimated price tag of $3 billion over 10 years.  This destructive bill will cause a corresponding loss of jobs across Pennsylvania as companies and industry compensate for higher energy costs.  Our families will have less money to buy groceries  or to save for college as our electric bills continue to rise.  HB.1580 adds insult to injury as taxpayers have already spent hundreds-of-millions of dollars on cockamamie, unsightly, and money losing “green” energy projects.

This is nothing more than special interest welfare at its worst and it will force the forgotten taxpayer to support another endless special interest entitlement program.

Furthermore, this bill is based on questionable opinion science about the causes of alleged man-made global warming.  It is preferential treatment to a small group of businesses and people who were short-sighted enough to build their solar panel production lines and solar fields on the back of a government subsidy.  Now that their uneconomical bad idea is failing, they want more taxpayer funded subsidizes.

In 2009 and 2010, our State politicians dumped $180 million of good taxpayer money into a pit of grants and loans for solar projects across Pennsylvania.  Now HB.1580’s creator, State Representative Chris Ross (R-158th), wants to double-down on this bad idea and throw more good money after bad.

Representative Ross openly admits that this bill will increase energy costs through rate increases and he seeks to reinforce this failed idea through higher electric bills for you and me.

There is hope if we let common-sense prevail and use the proven free market system to find the most efficient and cost effective ways to produce and deliver goods and services.