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Action Alert: Support Federal Solar Legislation

Discussion in 'Photovoltaics' started by Walt Bilofsky, Feb 16, 2007.

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  1. Please take one minute to support an important proposed law that would
    extend solar power in the U.S.

    The bill (HR. 550 / S. 590) would extend tax credits for solar
    installations and remove the $2000 cap for residential systems. As
    state rebates shrink and PV prices remain high, this support is needed
    to keep encouraging new PV installations.

    Here's a link to a form you can fill out, to ask your representatives
    in Washington to co-sponsor this important bill:

    - Walt Bilofsky
  2. PV manufacturers, installers, and advocates such as Vote Solar work
    very hard in favor of tax credits and rebates. I will go with their
    judgment unless presented with a compelling argument to the contrary.

  3. Why should this be supported? Even without subsidies from the federal gov't
    the demand for PV outstrips the production capacity. Some states are in a
    better position for solar to be workable via better solar insolation and/or
    near their capacity in terms of power plants so putting money into subsidies
    is better than giving it all to the lawyers when the inevitable fights come
    about from people who want unlimited electricity so long as the plants aren't
    built near their house.

    If you want legislation to encourage PV solar, make it a federal requirement
    that all electrical providers pay you full retail for your electricity, rather
    than doing net metering (which many don't even do now) And have it available
    for any rate plan. So if your electric company offers time of day pricing
    where electricity is say 20 cents/kwh on a summer afternoon, 10 cents/kwh on
    a summer night and 5 cents/kwh on a winter day, you can select that rate when
    you install PV and you'll get those prices for the power you generate. Solar
    does a pretty good job of generating electricity when the local grid needs it
    most, just doing that will go a long way towards making it a more viable
    economic payback. That's a lot smarter than just taking taxpayer money and
    giving it to people to defray their cost of PV installation.

    Think of it this way, why is it you are supporting PV? Probably because you
    have some concern for the environment, and want to limit production of CO2
    due to use of coal, natural gas or oil to generate electricity. Well, given
    that PV panel production is less than demand, a situation that looks to
    continue for at least the next few years, shouldn't we want to see those PV
    panels go to the places they'll do the most good? Those places are states
    like CA, AZ, NZ, TX, and FL. A federal subsidy applies equally anywhere,
    and I'm sorry but states like WA, ME or AK aren't going to make nearly as
    effective use of PV panels as the more sunny and more southern states will.

    And I say this as a resident of IA, who will be building a house soon. I
    plan to do what I can make sure it can receive PV panels in the future, but
    given the local utility's net metering on a MONTHLY basis (so if I sized a
    system to equal my yearly kwh usage, I'd end up using only half of it and give
    the other half away for free to my utility) it doesn't make sense. Even with
    proper net metering its not close to payback here with our relatively low
    electrical rates (< 10c/kwh)

    So while I'd love it if PV was economically viable for me (or even within 2:1,
    so I could tell myself the good I'm doing outweighs the economic cost) its
    just not, and given the limited production capacity we're all better off if
    the panels I would buy given enough rebates or tax credits go to areas that
    can 1) make better use of it and 2) due to higher growth are nearing their
    maximum electrical production capacity. Sounds like CA to me. Let Arnie
    continue the big state tax credits people in CA receive, and they can have
    my panels now, and I'll wait a few years for better technology and/or more
    efficient production and/or changes to my utility's policies and/or increases
    in my electrical rate to make it a better option for me and buy them then.

    Doing this at the state level makes FAR more sense, I don't see why people in
    CA should have their taxes helping me install panels here in IA, and I don't
    want my tax money to help someone in upper Michigan install panels on his
    home. It just doesn't make sense, economically or environmentally.
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