Solar power companies, including Phil Bredesen’s Silicon Ranch, wouldn’t make much of a mark without do-gooder government officials giving them taxpayer money, government incentives, and other generous benefits, an expert said.
That’s because less than 2 percent of America’s electricity comes from solar power, said Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
“Without these government benefits, you would see a lot less because anytime you subsidize something you’re going to get more of it,” Loris told The Tennessee Star.
“If you got rid of all energy subsidies, not just the ones for solar, but all the ones for fossil fuels, for wind, for nuclear, then I think, in a true free market, solar’s role in the electricity generation portfolio would be pretty minimal.”
But, Loris went on to say, if market forces dictate that solar power is cost competitive and if people are willing to pay more for it, then they ought to have that right.
“Those decisions are from an investment perspective and by a consumer choice perspective,” Loris said.
“They shouldn’t be driven by the federal government and gambling with other people’s money.”
But if those subsidies and other benefits for solar power are wasteful then it’s hard to get rid of them because they attract support from both Democrats and Republicans. Members of the two parties believe these policies create jobs, Loris said.
“Energy is one of the last places the federal government needs to invest taxpayer resources in because there is a huge market opportunity for innovative companies to meet not just American’s energy demands but the world’s energy demands,” Loris said.
“Any company that can do that will be rewarded tremendously from the profit motive and incentive. So why are we trying to use other people’s money in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies to engineer what we think should be the best energy economy when we can let the market determine what the best energy economy should be?”
As reported, Loris told The Star that solar power isn’t as effective an energy saver as people in government might lead Tennesseans and others across the country to believe.
He said it’s more expensive.
Two weeks ago a company with direct ties to Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen reportedly launched a new solar initiative in northeast Tennessee. Bredesen did this through Silicon Ranch.
As reported, Bredesen personally benefitted from solar energy policies he enacted while Tennessee’s governor.
According to The Johnson City Press, officials with that city’s utility, BrightRidge, and the Tennessee Valley Authority broke ground on what they call the first solar power-producing plant in that part of the state.
“The 40-acre solar farm, which will be owned and operated by Silicon Ranch, is also the first public/private partnership of its type in the region,” according to the paper.
“Silicon Ranch is covering all costs to build the solar farm with the understanding that TVA and BrightRidge will buy power from the facility,” according to the paper.
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