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New Jersey Seeks to Realize Green Dreams with Other People’s Money

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

  


Emulating corrupt New York, New Jersey is now pursuing green dreams by using other people’s money to subsidize, subsidize and further subsidize a boondoggle.

NJ Spotlight is a fractivist echo chamber. It is funded by the William Penn and Wyncote Foundations, house organs for the Haas family, as well as the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (Rockefeller family). Other foundations with which they’re allied and/or to whom they donate money (e.g., the Community Foundation of New Jersey) are also involved.

This is why NJ Spotlight carries stories like this one, about a Phil “Pander Bear” Murphy administration initiative to “deliver the benefits of solar power to low and moderate-income customers.” The story, together with some others, indicates Phil is vainly following Andrew Cuomo footsteps in using other people’s money to pursue foolish solar dreams while he   fighting unsubsidized natural gas that is actually making a difference.

New Jersey

Huge (and hugely uneconomic) rooftop solar systems in Camden, New Jersey, paid for by surcharges on the electrical bills of the low income residents of America’s poorest city who live nearby. Call out the environmental justice warriors!

Here are the relevant excerpts from the story (emphasis added) that illustrate what I’m talking about:

The Murphy administration is proposing a new pilot program aimed at bringing affordable solar power to low- and moderate-income customers…

The pilot, mandated under a sweeping clean-energy bill signed into law by the governor this spring, is designed to create opportunities to offer solar power to renters, multifamily dwellings, and others.

The state has seen the installation of more than 90,000 solar arrays in recent years, but the boom has, for the most part, excluded less well-off populations — even though they also pay a surcharge on utility bills to subsidize the program

Generally, it refers to local installations that allow multiple subscribers to tap into the solar systems. These are usually people who cannot install their own arrays because their dwellings are in too much shade, or the condition of the roof is unsuitable, or they are simply unable to afford the panels

To that end, the proposed program carves out a 40 percent earmark of the overall capacity for low- and moderate-income projects. That provision exceeds the 15 percent target recommended by many stakeholders at a meeting earlier this summer

Others, however, worried whether targeting such a large percentage to low- and moderate-income customers can work financially.

“That’s a big pilot program,’’ said Fred DeSanti, executive director of the New Jersey Solar Energy Coalition, “but I don’t understand how the finances work. How is it financially viable? If it is, great.’’

[Others] expressed reservations, questioning what type of incentives are included to help customers pay for solar. Many urban communities lack the available land necessary to bring the projects to scale to be cost effective, according to developers.

“If the funding isn’t there, none of these things are going to happen,’’ added Jonathan Cloud, executive director of New Jersey PACE, who nevertheless is excited about the state finally moving forward on community solar.

The nice part of the story, of course, is that the writer admits solar subsidies are paid for by  surcharges on the electrical bills of low and moderate consumers and end up financing the solar virtue-signaling of wealthier households. Bring on the environmental justice warriors! Here, finally, is a real case for them to investigate.

More than this, though, the story illustrates the economic foolishness of the entire enterprise as proponents who are “excited” admit there’s not enough land, money or customers who can afford what’s proposed. It’s like trying to get money out of a busted ATM machine; there’s always hope but the effort is invariably fruitless. Solar energy is a loser from the word go and adding even more subsidies to extend the “benefits” to those who don’t want it and have no place for it, is nothing less than insanity.

Still more insight into what’s going on here, just check out this Newsday story about what’s happened on Long Island, New York being well ahead of New Jersey is sponsoring  this nonsense:

Hawking systems at shopping malls, Tupperware-styled parties and invitation-only dinners, the solar industry sometimes aimed its efforts at senior citizens and others with limited incomes who unwittingly got locked into long-term leasing agreements for “no money down,” often with add-on costs in the fine print.

In some cases, homes with newly installed panels were shaded by trees or other obstacles, making them poor candidates to derive sufficient power from the sun to lower their existing electric bill, some critics and customers charged.

“We are paying more now than we did previously,” before his SolarCity panels were installed, said Edward Maccone, 77, of North Bellmore. “I lost all faith in them after seeing the numbers” in his resulting electric bills.

In other cases, customers who signed 20- or 25-year deals for solar panels on their roofs have encountered complications selling or refinancing their homes. Homeowners say they were surprised to learn that little-known documents filed by the solar firms at county clerks’ offices listed them as “debtors,” complicating refinancings and attempts to sell their homes.

Critics, including consumer watchdogs, say solar customers, particularly elderly homeowners, were enticed by hard-sell tactics that didn’t pan out as promised, affecting the public perception of this fledgling industry, originally promoted by government with various tax incentives and rebates.

That last paragraph pretty well sums up why New Jersey ought to think twice about following New York’s example, but there’s still more to consider from Economics21.org:

Buy $1 million worth of solar panels and, over a 30-year operating period, they will produce about 25 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). Never mind what one is paid for those kWh, whether directly or indirectly through tax and regulatory jiggering, or legal mandates, that’s the quantity of energy one gets. Period.

By comparison, $1 million worth of a modern wind turbine will produce 50 million kWh over the same 30 years. That basic fact explains why wind today contributes about 600% more to the grid than does solar; wind power is a lot cheaper.

Alternatively, purchase $1 million worth of a shale rig and, over those same 30 years, that capital will produce enough natural gas to generate 400 million kWh. The 400 is not a typo. That same $1 million of hardware producing natural gas yields 10 and 20-fold more ‘product’ (kWh) than either wind or solar respectively. And this basic fact explains why, over the past decade, private investment in shale gas has added 500% more energy to America than government subsidized wind and solar combined.

Solar, in other words, despite being one of New Jersey’s green dreams is as dumb an energy investment as could possibly be made by the Garden State. Moreover, if reducing greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to deal with climate change, then the fastest and easiest way to get there is with unsubsidized natural gas. That much is obvious from data supplied by the EPA and reflected in this chart:

New Jersey

In fact, greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 “were 12 percent below 2005 levels,” according to the EPA. That’s when the shale revolution first began, of course, and natural gas development made those reductions happen. That’s real progress and it didn’t cost New Jersey ratepayers our taxpayers a dime as compared to the environmentally unjust solar subsidies and schemes the Pander Bear is now advancing.

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