A friend posted an article titled Solar Industry Takes on Crony Capitalism in Arizona on Facebook and what started as a comment on the link was more appropriate as a blog post so here goes.
First, a more apt title for the article might have been “Solar Industry Seeks Crony Capitalism in Arizona.” It’s not about fighting crony capitalism, it’s about seeking favors. The idea is that people who install solar panels on their home should have their power paid for by everyone else. If all energy consumers were able to install solar, who would be left to subsidize them? Unsurprisingly unsustainable economics from advocates for sustainable energy.
The article attempts to justify this wrongheaded approach by stating:
Due to the limited nature of energy, and the expense of outfitting each home with energy sources, it is virtually impossible for competing energy sources to exist without government – or some type of neutral entity – stepping in to split up the pot in some way.
I’m unsure what’s neutral about this policy. I’m also unsure of which government the author is speaking that could be deemed a neutral entity. How can you point to the problem with cronyism and then call the state “some type of neutral entity” when it supports the industry you personally favor? Either it is subject to cronyism or it is neutral.
I want to see solar happen and I believe it will. I don’t want to see other energy consumers being forced to subsidize those who choose solar. This is essentially a tax on the poor as poorer energy consumers lack the capital to install solar. Even in the case of subsidies for the install in the first place (which I also disagree with) relatively wealthy people will be better able to navigate the paperwork.
Net metering is awesome as long as it’s at market prices for energy. There can be costs factored into the production of “dirty” energy for the externalities it may create. This increases the cost of energy. Solar doesn’t have to bear these costs but benefits from the higher price per kilowatt hour when selling power back to the grid.
There are innovations coming in solar energy production and energy storage that will make it more viable. Currently, people may choose to derive their power from solar energy due to environmental concerns, for the independence it provides them or any other number of reasons. Let’s not make solar yet another obstacle in class mobility. Let’s not involve politics in something as critical as energy.