published Monday, October 31st, 2011

Costly government funding of solar projects

We spotted something unusual in a recent article in the Times Free Press about a local company that had received federal dollars to install solar panels and reduce its energy costs.

We don't blame the company -- Lawson Electric -- for accepting the "free" federal money to put in the panels. But it was interesting that the manager of the local project said that even if the company had not been provided the nearly $200,000 in federal grant money, the solar panels would have paid for themselves within six or seven years.

If that's so, then why should Washington be funding such projects in the first place? If companies or homes really can quickly recoup their up-front costs for solar panels through energy savings, why not let them buy the panels on their own, without subsidies from other taxpayers who have not chosen to install the panels?

Why not let individuals and businesses make their own decisions about how to meet their energy needs by selecting the energy sources and providers that make the most economic sense for them -- and then let them pay for that energy accordingly?

That is far preferable to government distortion of the energy market.

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