Tom Wolf has joined hands with special interests to promote a costly solar ripoff scheme that would have Pennsylvania copy the failed German Energiewende.
Yesterday, Tom Wolf’s DEP put out a news release asking for comments on a proposed solar ripoff plan forged hand in hand with the help of the usual suspects; PennFuture, the Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper, SolarCity, et al. Entitled “Pennsylvania’s SolarFuture Plan,” the document identifies PennFuture and Tesla/SolarCity as two of 15 “committed partners.”
This solar ripoff tries to make the case for getting 10% of Pennsylvania’s electric power from solar energy in 2030 by forcing its subsidization across the board by ratepayers and taxpayers. It’s an outrageous proposal intended to ape New York State and Germany where electricity prices have skyrocketed with nothing to show for it in terms of reducing emissions.
Why do I say this is a solar rip-off? Here are the proposals:
PROPOSED STRATEGY 1: Implement an increase in the AEPS PV carve-out to between 4 and 8 percent by 2030 and ensure creditable SRECs are limited to those generated in Pennsylvania wherever possible. Translation: Force ratepayers to accept and pay for high cost solar generated electricity.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 2: Increase access to capital by expanding availability of solar lending products to both residential and commercial projects to enable solar ownership. Translation: Force taxpayers to loan money to solar ripoff artists and homeowners who want a free ride
PROPOSED STRATEGY 3: Provide loan guarantees to lower interest rates and provide an incentive to deploy solar generation. Translation: Force taxpayers to subsidize the interest on the above loans.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 4: Implement a carbon pricing program and invest the proceeds in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Translation: Raise taxes on natural gas, fuel oil and gasoline to subsidize government subsidies hustlers such as Elon Musk.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 5: Support the creation and adoption of uniform policies to streamline siting and land-use issues while encouraging conservation. Translation: Force municipalities to accept solar farms anywhere and everywhere.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 6: Evaluate the state tax policy and consider exemptions that encourage the development of solar PV systems. Translation: Give tax breaks to solar energy projects, making other taxpayers pay for it.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 7: Assist solar project sponsors in identifying investors and/or companies that have sufficient tax equity appetite to take full advantage of the federal ITC and Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) depreciation if sponsors cannot do so themselves. Translation: Promote the use of Federal taxpayer subsidies and solar ripoffs.
As if this weren’t enough in the way of solar ripoiffs, there are then three more strategies related to grid-scale projects:
PROPOSED STRATEGY 1: Develop guidelines for limited use of long term contracts (LTCs) for a period of ten or more years to ensure Pennsylvania benefits from grid scale solar energy. Translation: Create special rules allowing solar investors to capitalize their taxpayer subsidies.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 2: Evaluate and consider utility ownership of solar generation especially in cases where market-driven deployment may be insufficient to achieve public goals and/or reliability concerns. Translation: Force utilities to do uneconomic solar projects and ratepayers to finance them.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 3: Investigate opportunities for grid modernization to enable increased solar generation. Translation: Force ratepayers to pay for grid modifications to accept uneconomical solar energy.
And, there are strategies for distributed energy as well:
PROPOSED STRATEGY 1: Give customer-generators the opportunity to use virtual net metering. Translation: Force other ratepayers to pay retail value for electricity generated by solar when it’s not needed and worthless.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 2: Identify and remove the barriers to the deployment of community solar systems in Pennsylvania. Translation: Force low income communities to accept solar energy projects they don’t want.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 3: Ensure alternative ratemaking is addressed in a manner that does not create a disincentive for solar deployment. Translation: Make sure solar energy projects are subsidized at every turn, in every way possible, by other ratepayers.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 4: Encourage municipalities to offer PACE programs. Translation: Force municipalities to offer solar subsidies and incentives.
PROPOSED STRATEGY 5: Accelerate use of smart inverters to managed over-voltage concerns on low voltage distribution lines and avoid unnecessarily adding costs on small solar distributed generation projects. Translation: Force other ratepayers to pay for technology intended to make solar energy more practical.
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. Tom Wolf wants to be Andrew Cuomo or Angela Merkel. As a trust-funder, costs are irrelevant to him and he wants credit from his elitist peers for being politically correct. So, he aims to imitate New York and German energy policies that have been complete failures; policies that have raised electricity prices and failed to achieve desired reductions in emissions.
Moreover, this solar ripoff (go here to record your opposition) is a pure special interest project. Not only are anti-gas PennFuture and Tesla/SolarCity “committed partners,” but the list of “stakeholders” (folks who don’t pay the bills but want a say) includes multiple solar companies, solar consultants, PennFuture, the Clean Air Council, Faith Zerbe of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Sierra Club and several Tesla/SolarCity folks. Missing from the list is anyone representing those use and pay for energy, other than a handful of chamber of commerce officers. Oh, yes, there are utilities, but they’re simply pass-through entities. There are no real stakeholders involved, only special interests pushing the solar energy narrative.
Here are the percentages of stakeholders by group, in fact:
Notice that renewables, nonprofit (e.g. PennFuture) and government folks accounted for 56% of the total, with utility, consulting and academic people accounting for another 28%. Where are those who would pay the bills for this farce? Where are the businesses who use electricity? Where are the real stakeholders? There are none because this is a subsidy cramdown on behalf of special interests. It’s a solar ripoff and a very big one. Say no to Tom Wolf’s election-year scheme.