Several years ago, when energy issues first starting engaging the public, the New Yorker ran a cartoon showing an upscale couple sitting in a fancy restaurant. The wife leans across the table and says to her husband, “Frankly, they’ve been perfectly insufferable since they went solar.”
President Obama reprised this spirit last week when he hosted a “Solar Summit” at the White House. The chief executive threw another $15 million at solar development, touted the military’s embrace of “renewable” energy (they’re very good at following orders), and honored the usual gaggle of Democratic loyalists as “Champions of Change” for promoting solar power. The private sector, he promised, will soon be dragged along.
It was a fitting match-up. Solar energy now provides about 1 percent of the nation’s energy income. With a heroic effort and another round of government mandates, it could probably climb to 2 percent by the end of the decade. Almost all residential solar consumption is concentrated among the wealthy. In effect, Obama is championing the 1 percent.