Hawaii’s taxpayer support for solar power is set to end in July due to cost and reliability concerns.
The state government repealed its previous programs to boost solar power last October and replaced them with a much more limited subsidy system that caps the total number of users to reduce the cost to the state and minimize power grid damage. That cap will probably be reached this month or in early August. The cap was essential to maintaining the states’ power grid, despite the state’s goal of using only green energy by 2045.
“It comes down to a financial issue,” Democratic state Rep. Chris Lee, the chairman of the state House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, told The Associated Press. “The more distributed generation, the more power that individuals generate themselves, the less of a customer base the utility ultimately has in the long run.”
Hawaii and many other states enacted net-metering subsidies for homeowners with solar panels in 2010, but are now backing away from them. Rooftop solar companies supported these subsidies as a way to encourage solar power and fight global warming. This, however, shifted the costs of maintaining the electrical grid onto households that don’t have solar panels, effectively transferring money from the poor to the rich.
Hawaii gets 3.66 percent of its electricity from solar, a higher portion than any other state, but already has the nation’s highest electricity costs. Last year, solar power only accounted for 0.6 percent of all electricity generated in America, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A 2015 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded rooftop solar subsides are inefficient and costly, and that rooftop solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.
Solar power by itself receives more federal subsidies than all fossil fuel sources combined, according to the EIA. 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 EIA data. Solar companies simply cannot maintain their current high levels of growth without government support.
Most state solar subsidies go to rooftop solar panels and include a 30 percent federal tax credit, while industrial scale solar is thus somewhat more efficient per dollar spent. 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.
TheDCNF previously used statistical analysis to show that the more pro-green energy policies a state has, the less likely it was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
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