Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Enviro Bitching: This story set me off:
State energy regulators on Tuesday unveiled one of the nation's most ambitious programs to expand the market for solar power, proposing to offer more than $3 billion in consumer rebates over the next decade.

Environmentalists said the California Solar Initiative would help reduce the cost of solar energy, create jobs and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Look, I'm excited for the day when I go "off the grid." But we're just not there yet, and flinging other peoples tax dollars around is not going to change that. It's coming; be patient. Cheap, weatherproof, flexible, photoelectric roofing is still a ways off. But the market is quite capable of letting us know when we've reached the tipping point, when the investment (and headaches) can be easily recouped. In addition, the rebates seem aimed at convincing homeowners to add panels. But new construction is clearly the place to make inroads. New construction means you're buying the roof anyway. Solar is an additional investment, but not ridiculously so. Then there's this:
The proposal revives an essential component of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid to expand use of renewable energy in California. The governor's widely publicized "Million Solar Roofs" initiative had bipartisan support, but it died in the Legislature this year after construction unions demanded high wages for solar panel installers.
What. A. Shock. Notice how GM is circling the drain lately? It has something to do with semi-skilled laborers earning six figures, with cushy pensions and benefits packages that would make members of Congress blush. And that's the thing here: Construction unions see money starting to fly around and want to hook themselves up to the teat. In the case of solar, it's taxpayer money, rather than corporation money, which makes it even harder to resist.

I've always said I'm a true environmentalist, deep down. But I also hate wasted effort, dodgy tax-funded initiatives, and socialistic greens who don't get the message that when alternative energy is economically feasible, people will embrace it in droves. This 3 billion dollar initiative is a waste. A better investment would be an innovation prize for solar technology/efficiency gains, like the X Prize that brought the private sector into space.


Anonymous said...

One question -- where does the investment come from to develop the alternative energy sources? How is beta testing done to be sure the technology can be scaled up for use? Is there any merit to investing some money now to develop the technology to save money in future? If so, who outside the government is willing to make the investment? Who, outside the government is willing to buy up the technology to kill it in order to keep making money from existing energy sources?

enobarbus said...

That's, er, five questions.