Editor’s note: This commentary is by Steve Thurston, of Ferrisburgh, who is a retired general contractor and home builder committed to energy efficiency and conservation as the critical path to reducing fossil fuel consumption. He was a founding member and co-chair of the Citizen’s Task Force on Wind Power in Maine. In 2011 he helped initiate a successful citizens petition to create a special section in Maine’s noise regulations to address wind turbine noise.
As the Legislature considers the recommendations of the Solar Siting Task Force, which was established in response to increasing citizens opposition to the wildfire-like spread of solar arrays, an important aspect of Vermont’s solar policy is being completely ignored — the Ponzi scheme of subsidies that props up this industry. If the Legislature would focus on who’s paying for all these solar panels and how much it is costing us, it would become obvious that solar panels are a waste of taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money for the environmental benefits achieved.
In an effort to unravel the Gordian knot of solar project economics and legal jargon, I came across a pro-solar website that lists the incentives for solar on a state by state basis, and grades states according to the generosity of their subsidies. Not surprisingly Vermont gets high marks. The solar proponents at Solar Power Rocks claim a 9.9 percent internal rate of return over the projected 25-year life of a typical 5-kW (5 kilowatt) residential solar project, which costs about $20,000 to install. “The internal rate of return for this investment is an amazing 9.9%.”
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