Washington’s Solar Subsidies Cost 13.5 Times The Price Of Power Generated

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Taxpayers pay 13.5 to 27 times more to subsidize solar power in Washington State than they would pay for electricity generated with conventional energy, according to a Thursday report from a Seattle radio program.

Washington state doles out $1.08 worth of subsidies and taxpayer support per kilowatt-hour for solar power, according to KUOW. Regular utilities typically cost about $0.04-0.08 per kilowatt-hour.

“Despite Western Washington’s status as one of the worst places in the United States for solar energy production, legislators continue to subsidize a technology that costs more and delivers less environmental benefit than virtually all other strategies,” Todd Myers, environmental director of the conservative-leaning Washington Policy Center, wrote in a January memo.

Washington’s policy isn’t actually reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the state either. Compared to other American states, the memo estimates that Washington’s solar subsidies require taxpayers spend 100 times the national cost of cutting CO2.

The Washington Policy Center estimates that the solar subsidies will cost the state government $24.7 million a year by 2020 when the program is scheduled to expire. The state government admits the subsidies program cost $7,980,142 in fiscal year 2015.

The subsidy cash isn’t just coming from the state government, as the program is structured so people can also pick up a 30 percent tax credit from the American federal government.

The U.S. federal government subsidizes solar power 326 times more than it subsidizes coal, oil and natural gas.

Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems, which cost a minimum of $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because the state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable over 10 to 15 years around most of the country. In Washington state, this behavior is profitable in only three to four years thanks to the extreme subsidies.

Solar power produced 0.6 of all energy used in America in 2015, according to the EIA.

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