American Elephants


The Art of Getting Rich on the Taxpayer’s Dime by The Elephant's Child

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Big Solar developments depend on government subsidy, and if the subsidies end, the solar project usually ends as well. Greens deny that, but that’s the way it happens all over the world.

We are about to have proof once again:

Elon Musk’s SolarCity stated Wednesday it will immediately cease operations in Nevada after a state commission voted unanimously to repeal taxpayer support for the rooftop solar industry.

“If the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s [PUC] proposed decision is accepted tomorrow it will destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine. There is so much wrong with the decision, [sic] the only option for the PUC is to reject it,” Lyndon Rive, the CEO of SolarCity, writes in a Monday statement. “If the PUC approves this proposal, it will force SolarCity to cease sales and installation operations in Nevada.

Elon Musk received a $1.4 billion in taxpayer support from the state of Nevada to build a “gigafactory” for Tesla Motors. That must be a thrill for Nevada taxpayers to help out in producing the glamorous Tesla Roadster — prices start at $101,500 and options are extra.

But Solar City is a different operation. They also got a big incentive to move to Nevada. The commission’s decision will gradually reduce the subsidies over the next four years, so it is not abrupt, but a gradual reduction. But Solar City has a history of threatening to pull out of states who end their support. They play hardball.

Solar subsidies in the U.S. go to support a 30 percent tax credit for residential solar. Companies like Solar City install rooftop systems which usually cost a minimum of $10,000, at no cost to the consumer. This huge bargain is actually profitable because the subsidies from the state and federal government are so massive. A MIT study concluded that rooftop solar subsidies are inefficient and costly and the companies cannot compete without government support. Of course company profits are a cost of doing the subsidized business.

Would be fun to see your big ideas brought to fruition with the government financing the whole deal. Please explain how this is a good deal for the taxpayers who don’t get a choice about whether or not they want to pay for it. Solar power gets 326 times more subsidy than conventional energy producers. In 2013, only $1.7 billion went to support nuclear power. And the EPA went to work trying to end coal-fired power plants. For all that, solar power amounted to only 0.4 percent of the electricity generated in the country. Note that is not 4%, but 4 tenths of one percent!

Ideology may trump common sense if you are convinced that using “natural” energy is the only way to save the world from catastrophic climate change, rising seas, all that bit; but you have to be remarkably obtuse and weak in basic arithmetic to go for this kind of deal. No wonder Democrats want big unaccountable government. It’s how they all get rich. The feds gave the solar industry another five-year tax credit extension last week.

Solyndra, Ivanpah, SolarCity and lots of other scandals are mounting up. You’d think someone would notice and put a stop to it.


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