Too often the discussion of economic incentives amounts to being pleasantly surprised that dogs like dog food. It shouldn’t be the end of the story that giving free money and tax credits for Industry X draws positive feedback from members of Industry X. What are its effects on consumers, taxpayers, the other industries, etc., from whom resources are taken to give goodies to Industry X?
It certainly isn’t surprising that, for example, the solar industry in North Carolina, which exists almost entirely because of state incentives and purchasing mandates, is trying to convince lawmakers of its vitality because of those state supports. Logically, the case makes no sense. Real successful industries don’t need permanent life support.
— Yours truly, Carolina Journal, 4/23/13
It is well-known — they freely admit it — that the solar industry’s business model is based on government subsidies and purchase mandates. To keep people being forced to buy it, this model requires a constant drumbeat of reports and press clippings making the same two self-defeating points over and over again and hoping no one in elected office sees how they don’t make sense:
- Solar is an incredibly strong, vibrant industry in North Carolina …
- … that would crumble like a kid’s sandcastle the instant the government withdrew tax incentives, grants, purchase mandates, etc.
At issue today is the pending vote in the N.C. House over House Bill 760, which would, among other things,
- freeze (not even sunset!) the renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS) mandate
- repeal an 80 percent property-tax exemption for solar (oh no! our property would be treated like everyone else’s! calamity!)
- study the long-term energy needs of North Carolinians, including the effects of the REPS mandate (pay no attention to the cronyism behind the curtain!)
- study the known and measurable costs and benefits of distributed generation (not costs too, never costs!)
Already the industry has managed to grovel its way into getting lawmakers and the governor to agree to an extension of its 35 percent tax credit. Yet HB 760 still threatens its very existence?
A survey of electric utilities released Monday ranks North Carolina third in the nation for new solar power operations added in 2014. …
Duke Energy’s solar expansion is fueled, in large part, by demanding —
Demanding who? Consumers who have no choice over their electricity provider but who desperately want more solar? Ratepayers whose most important need at the flip of the switch is actually to swell with pride at the state’s suddenly new, higher solar ranking released coincidentally before an important vote in the House? Reading on…
— by demanding North Carolina regulations that require utilities to add an increasing portion of renewable energy to their sources of power.
Those regulations are being challenged in the current General Assembly.
Mandates established by the legislature in 2007 required utilities to buy 3 percent renewable energy by 2012, 6 percent by 2015, 10 percent by 2018 and 12.5 percent by 2021.
Proof once again that the solar industry thinks it cannot survive unless poor people with no say in the matter are forced to buy power from them through the only electricity provider they’re allowed to buy from.