Tomorrow ~ Without subsidies, solar industry would dry up

Dominion Energy 125 acre solar farm Remington va
Dominion Energy's 125-acre solar farm in Remington, Va.

By Paul Quigg, columnist

In spite of its denials, the Biden Administration has done everything in their power to reduce the production of fossil fuels. This quiet effort to try to accomplish the job their renewable energy efforts could not, has failed and the only result is higher energy costs.

The numerous subsidies given to solar, and to a lesser extent wind, has hidden the true cost of producing solar energy. The current solar energy legislation is packed with subsidies which have begun to phase out because it was assumed that solar would be able to stand on its own by this time as technological breakthroughs and increased production would improve its productivity. This has not been the case and the industry is working feverishly to have the subsidies renewed.

Solar World magazine, in a January 2022 article outlined the subsidies they wanted to have included in the languishing Build Back Better legislation. They want to extend the 30-percent Commercial Investment Tax Credit, and extend and refund the Residential Investment Tax Credits. They want to add Stand-alone non-residential Storage Investment Tax Credits, add Commercial Production Tax Credit Options, add Stand-alone Residential Storage Investment Tax Credits, add Domestic Solar Manufacturing Tax Credits, including panels, inverters, trackers and large-scale solar plus storage provisions.

These are just the Federal requests; regions, states, cities and local governments are eager to add to the list. The Commercial Investment Tax Credit has already dropped from 30 percent to 26 percent, with yearly 4 percent drops in the future.

The industry admits that without a Build Back Better renewal of past subsidies and the addition of the new ones mentioned above, the solar industry would rapidly dry up. 

Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. 



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  1. C’mon, really? “the Biden administration has done everything in their power to reduce the production of fossil fuels?”
    What about today’s announcement: “White House said it plans an ‘unprecedented’ release of 1 million barrels of additional oil per day on average from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next six months” Gee the government sure has a lot of oil for wanting to reduce the production of fossil fuels.

    …or how about the attempt to force the hand of companies to drill more: “Companies that ‘continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre'” Reduction? Nada, try a govt-forced increase.

    You fail to mention fossil fuel’s subsidies, which make the total to renewables look like small potatoes. Eh, I’ll give Biden partial credit since he’s tried, but he hasn’t ended all of those and probably never will with how many politicians pockets are lined with dirty money. Maybe you’ll remember that the US has been giving subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industry for OVER A CENTURY. For longer than your lifetime, Mr. Quigg, it’s been an annual gift of somewhere around $5-20 billion, but who even knows how much more it really is with all the oiled up loopholes (one estimate is $650 billion annually). For comparison, during the 15 year ‘startup’ period, it was five times higher than the amount given to renewables. Amazing that such a longstanding industry would continuously need our taxpayer money.

    So. One option: We could make it fair and give renewables an amount equal to what was given in total to oil, gas, and coal (lots of commas and zeroes).
    Maybe a better option: we can end all the subsidies, get the government out of our pocket, and stop them from picking winners and losers.

    • Dylan; The “release” from the oil reserve involves oil that has already been produced, they are just releasing it to the market. The administration is delaying and complicating the permitting process on government land. Oil production has been highly subsidized over the years because it is not renewable and qualifies for depletion allowances, every business relies heavily on depreciation to operate non-renewable assets. The wind and solar industry will also depreciate their assets as fast as the law will allow. The current solar subsidies are just plain giveaways. You must realize solar produces 1 and 1/2 percent of our total energy, while oil, gas and coal produce 80 percent of our energy.
      Government taxes the fossil energy pays far, far exceeds the repletion allowances they receive.
      We must never forget that fossil fuels has energized the incredible prosperity we enjoy.

  2. The governments at all levels hand out subsidies everywhere. To even “longstanding industries” and to Luray’s new main street bridge. If the social security subsidy was eliminated, then old people would “dry up”. Nice try there demonizing subsidies.
    Government subsidies I wish could go away, but they’re a fact of life and no better than the people making them.
    I’m not a democrat, and solar energy is the only thing I agree with them about.
    But not for the same reasons. I’m not too concerned about about the pollution angle. Natural gas is very efficient and relatively clean.
    I’m more a fan of independence and national defense.

  3. It may be just me, but the photo accompanying Paul Quigg’s article makes a solar “farm” look rather attractive. Even from Skyline Drive, I don’t think I’d mind seeing that.

  4. Robert; All of your references lead to the BP article!
    The EIA prediction is a goal and zero past renewable goals have come close. The remainder of the article refers to the “capacity” of their facilities. Capacity refers to something operating 24/7/365. The “operating capacity” of current solar facilities is around 8 percent. The solar industry always brags about how many workers they employ but I challenge you to find them bragging about how much electricity they produce.

  5. Will; How about 50 to 75 feet from Route 340. Considering the rolling terrain in Page County the panels would be seen from many different elevated locations. You have a point about Skyline Drive but 8-10 miles away is a different story. We just can’t take a chance in this beautiful County.

  6. Paul, I did agree with the opposition to the Cape Solar project. Believing that solar is good (or more accurately, necessary) doesn’t mean that every project that comes along should be accepted without criticism. The bar will be higher for solar than for coal or natural gas plants, because it’s more likely that we’ll have to have them in our backyards. As long as people have enough influence to stop the ones that are poorly thought out or too burdensome on a locality (like Cape), they’ll probably succeed. Lacking such power, they might be out of luck.
    But in any event, I suspect that living near a solar utility is a lot less harmful to people than being stuck next to an oil refinery. I’m in favor of democratizing the ways we get our energy, spreading out the pain if need be. It’s not a bad thing to have the visual reminder of solar plants dotting the landscape.

  7. I’m still confused by who Paul Quigg is and why he’s become the expert on solar energy. Cool, Paul doesn’t want solar and provides no path forward to energy independence. Isn’t he just an old guy who lives in a big house by the gold course? And people wonder why Page County is stuck in the past. This column is a perfect snapshot why.

    • I have never represented myself as an “expert” on solar. I’m just a guy with an extensive study of all sides of the energy sector. The column has no agenda other then the sharing of opinions so we all can get a better understanding.
      When the climate change issue first came into prominence in the late 1980’s I was very enthusiastic about the prospects for solar and expressed a hope for its future. However, over the years I have been very disappointed with results as solar provides only 1.5 percent of our energy at this time. Its true cost is hidden behind vast subsidies and at this time is a waste of valuable funding. Energy is a global issue and US energy independence is a political issue. Its true I’m an old guy who lives on the golf course.
      If you have something positive to add to this discussion, I will look forward to you views.

  8. Realistic observations are sometimes not well received, especially when reality hits home. Paul Quigg (in my opinion) offers up information that is grounded and honest. We would do well to apply some well informed critical thinking. There is no need for ad hominem attacks.

  9. I’m coming at solar power from a military standpoint. At every opportunity in the field you always improve your position, and prepare alternate and supplementary positions in case you get driven back. You will have somewhere to regroup and launch a counterattack from.
    We have the opportunity to improve the capacity and reliability of the grid with solar. If you don’t help out, and we get attacked, then I’m going to be like that dog I heard say, “One day that deliveryman is going to come through that door and murder all of you, and I’m going to be like, ha ha ha ha, who needs to stop barking and go lay down now?”

  10. Although I’m at odds with some of what Paul Quigg is saying, I agree with you that respectful engagement with all views is key.

  11. Will; We don’t learn much when we sit around talking about things we all agree on. We all have much to learn.

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