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If you’re gonna make solar subsidies, make them last!

Solar Waffle

Most markets are fluid. Supply and demand tango and everything runs like one of those musical Visa commercials. However, the market for renewable energy is heavily subsidized, so everything gets all….. screwy. In this article I explain the screwyness and propose a solution that may actually happen if we get Barack Obama into the white house.

Different states offer different incentives for solar energy, while some offer zip…nada. For example, in California, the state credit for solar steps down over time as more and more people install it (which is a fine design). Some states like South Dakota have more or less – bupkis. And then, sometimes, this happens (the following quote is from Perry Leitner of Blue Chip Solar and Wind):

“The Governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, has ended the Residential renewable energy grant, which has virtually pulled the rug out from under us. The cost of Solar/Wind is prohibitive without a rebate. We are concentrating our efforts to commercial businesses, farms and small rural businesses for now. “

As you may know, I sell solar power here in San Francisco. Daily, I hear things like this:

“I heard the tax credit might get better in 08, we’re gonna wait and see how that pans out.”

“Well, let’s see who the next president is and if there is a national subsidy, we aren’t gonna make a decision on solar today, we’re gonna wait and see how the election pans out.”

“I heard the funds for the San Francisco incentive are locked up at the moment. Let’s see how that pans out, that’s $4000 we’re talking about!”

Here’s the point I’m trying to make:  The same incentive programs intended to increase people’s interest in solar are instead making them freeze and lock-up… waiting… waiting… waiting. Not only does it seem the stock market is at the whim of politicians, but the future of renewable energy in our country is as well.

The bottom line is that if you want to call something an incentive, it should actually work like one instead of being counter productive.


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3 thoughts on “If you’re gonna make solar subsidies, make them last!

  1. bf says:

    Here’s an idea whose time has come! Nationalize solar (renewable energies) incentives!

    Let’s bust a move, Mr. President. What’s holding up the common sense? Please get out of the way…

    The rest of us have to get Obama into the White House ASAP! Get the Oil addicts out!

  2. Kent Ragen says:

    Solar is the natural solution to our long-term energy needs. But market forces will not grow solar as quickly as we need it to grow for the near-term energy crisis, so government intervention on a large scale is required.

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