We read this morning of an allegedly existential economic war proceeding between electric utilities and solar power companies around the country, with little publicity. As we have no choice but to pay energy costs in nearly all that we buy, we thought that this deserved attention.
In short, the utilities seem to be attempting to reclaim the government-enforced subsidies for solar power that they have been compelled to offer. The solar power makers as one might expect, are resisting this at full cry. And we suppose that the hubbub will only increase while the clarity of the data will only diminish.
Let us set the stage: First, solar power presently costs substantially more than other common sources; it is uneconomic. Second, politicians interested in proliferating “renewable” power sources have finessed that difference with a list of government and legislated taxpayer subsidies for the solar industry. Among those are mandated purchases of solar power from residential solar installations and mandated discounts and rebates for them. These provide a prospective solar purchaser a friendlier economic appeal than the unsubsidized reality would grant. A lot of home solar has been sold on that.
Now, the utilities are proposing changes to their rate structures; changes that allocate more real costs to solar rather than subsidizing it. The folk who depend upon selling solar for a living are upset. It is too soon to see how this will turn out; government is the ultimate joker. A good bit of the subsidy comes through the tax system and we know that government is desperate for more revenue.
Another joker is the general ignorance by taxpayers of the facts of those subsidies. Learning that they are paying for part of their neighbors’ solar plant may not thrill too many taxpayers. Too soon to know.
The newsfolk are as so often now, barely mentioning this battle and when they do, providing too little of the realities to clarify it for most. As news providers, one might say that they are about as efficient as the solar folk are at providing electricity. It appears that there is little money left in educating voters now, or someone would be doing that more competitively. If of course, government regulators allowed.
Meantime readers may now know a little more of what is occurring. When some pundit writes of how greedy utilities are trying to destroy noble solar power, a trifle more understanding may be applied. Or not …