PSC Commish Holloway To Leges: Kill The Solar Tax Credits Now

From an open letter by Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway to the state legislature, a suggestion that would bring the state budget about $25 million closer to balance…

May 8, 2013

Dear Legislators of the State of Louisiana:

I support renewable energy. I was the driving force on the Louisiana Public Service Commission, in adopting a renewable energy pilot program in 2010. I know solar is an excellent, clean source of power. However, it should simply be able to pay its own way and sustain itself without taxpayer dollars. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for solar panels? Does the State of Louisiana honestly have extra money to simply give away millions for solar panels?

I write today urging you to take immediate and EFFECTIVE action regarding the solar subsidies in our state. End this 50% subsidy now! ( Reports published yesterday state we spent $24 million last year alone.)

You have a difficult job, but you were elected to solve problems (primarily budgetary dilemmas during this era of vast monetary shortfalls). Citizens have entrusted you with an incredible responsibility; respect that trust and END careless spending of tax payer dollars. You have been given the sacred opportunity to lead this state, I implore you to do so now and be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. End this 50% subsidy now!

Why are we going to continue to dole out tens of millions escalating to hundreds of millions of dollars on the solar subsidy during the coming years? Why allow AT LEAST four to seven more years on this subsidy? To remove the subsidy is NOT a tax increase…it is a savings to taxpayers! (For my fellow Republicans who are spinning and redefining the term “tax increase”: it is NOT a tax increase if we are footing the bill…literally writing a check to leasing companies for 50% of cost of these panels. The federal government is already paying out 30% of the cost in addition of Louisiana’s 50%.)

Even with the bill in current form and proposals to stipulate a reduction to “one unit per home”….the problem will still continue to escalate financially Louisiana. Under the current system, leasing companies ALREADY go door to door in our state with the goal and intent to sell only ONE UNIT per home….with THIS system and practice the state has already paid tens of millions of dollars. Under current proposals this will NOT stop the escalating cost, the price tag will continue to spiral out of control!

Louisiana, our very own state, is cutting hospitals, education, neglecting roads and infrastructure…yet, we will continue to pay tens of millions in dollars to subsidize solar energy under the current law and proposals. What part of this scenario is good stewardship of tax dollars? This is NOT economic development, this is simply government (taxpayers) subsidizing an industry that is crying because it does not want to stand on its own in the free market. It expects government/taxpayers to pay half of its way and sustain the industry.

I realize influential lobbyists and solar industry individuals, who previously served with you in the Legislature and actually crafted this initial legislation just a few short years ago, are now leading the charge to keep or at least extend the status quo to preserve their financial trough. We cannot afford to keep filling the trough.

As a commissioner, I have been a consistent vote in holding the investor-owned utility companies accountable. To protect ratepayers, I voted against Entergy passing along the cost of Little Gypsy–a power plant that was never built, voted against Entergy getting to charge customers for the costs of Hurricane Rita and Ike to name only a few of my votes. Now, is the time I ask for you, to protect taxpayers. I implore you, be a good steward of the hard earned money individuals of this state entrust with you, stop these subsidies and use the resources to set a sensible budget…chart the course and set a responsible fiscal future for this state.

Clyde Holloway
Public Service Commissioner of District IV

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