Editorial: The new plan to slash rooftop solar incentives is better — but still too extreme
The New plan is better because it is more moderate. I know that in many places, the solar subsidy is the only revenue generator for utilities. But if utilities get to keep their tax increment financing right, solar could actually be a net money-maker.
The first reason it’s better is that it’s a little more moderate. Some utilities have been doing the math and figured out that reducing the incentive for rooftop solar by half would leave them at a real loss. And this loss is greater than the gain from keeping the incentive at all.
If we look at the subsidies from a different angle, it’s the first really hard and fast way of thinking about it that people don’t often think about — the amount that people need to subsidize wind or solar.
If you look at the incentive for rooftop solar, you might well ask “How much is rooftop solar worth?” — the answer is one kilowatt-hour (kWh) for every watt of electricity that you produce through that solar. That’s the basic cost for the kilowatt-hour subsidy.
Now, as I said, that’s the basic cost for the kilowatt-hour subsidy.
The more we subsidize wind, the more we subsidize wind. And the more we subsidize solar, the more we subsidize solar.
And this is an economic equation — we are doing it at two different scales. And to figure out how much we are subsidizing wind or solar, we have to go into the economics of it. I think these subsidies work best when the scale stays within the economics of the system, the scale of the subsidy as far as market prices for kilowatt-hours (KWH) go.
Here, then, is the problem. If you go from the basic subsidy, which is a kilowatt-hour subsidy for every kilowatt-hour that you produce through a solar system, to the