For those of you who haven’t read Tom Bonnette’s wrapup of the Public Service Commission meeting yesterday at which there was a good dust-up over solar energy and how the subsidies given to it are counterproductive, it’s a great idea to read it before going further.
Because at yesterday’s meeting it appeared quite clear that the economics of having the state provide tax breaks so that rich people can install solar panels on their roofs simply doesn’t add up.
And while new PSC chairman Foster Campbell berated the Lafayette utility official who attempted to explain the problem, other members of the commission weren’t so impressed.
For example, Clyde Holloway, who issued this press release this morning…
Clyde C. Holloway (Forest Hill-Republican) today called on the Louisiana Legislature to cut the state subsidization by tax payers of the installation of solar (and wind) energy systems. Currently the state of Louisiana leads the nation by giving a 50% credit (rebate) for the first $25,000 of the cost of a solar system. This credit is given in addition to the 30% tax credit provided by the federal government.
“I strongly support solar,” Holloway said, “but this is too much.” Commissioner Holloway, the leading advocate on the LPSC for renewable energy, was the driving force behind Louisiana’s conservative initiative to implement a renewable energy program in the state.
Holloway objects to the solar panel rebates for two reasons primarily:
1) While ALL taxpayers and ratepayers are subsidizing the rebates of the comparatively few home owners who are able to afford solar panels, taxpayers and ratepayers who cannot afford the panels are not able to benefit from the decreased utility costs that come with the solar panels.
2) Additionally, with the “net metering” device that would be attached to a home with solar panels, the device only kicks on and provides “traditional” power when the solar panels don’t generate enough power. However, the owner of a home with solar panels—due to cheaper solar power—would not have been paying a fair share of the costs of generating traditional power during the months solar power is insufficient to meet the homeowner’s needs. As a result, Holloway continued, people who buy the solar panels and have a much lower power bill are not helping pay for the delivery, up keep and maintenance of traditional power although they still get to benefit from and receive traditional power during those times when their solar powered homes are not generating enough energy. Holloway reiterated that Louisiana is a “modest solar state” as it pertains to generating solar power and during those days or months that there is simply not enough sun to generate adequate solar power, owners of solar powered homes still get to tap back into traditional electricity although they would not have been paying to maintain and deliver it.
Holloway concluded by stating, “This subsidy is excessive and unfair to those who pay to maintain the infrastructure and delivery of traditional power. Last year the state of Louisiana spent $13million on solar subsidies. I have to question whether this is the best use of public dollars.”