The Big Sunshiny Lie | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Big Sunshiny Lie
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The important thing to know about solar and wind power, and other so-called “renewable” sources of energy, is that they aren’t necessary. Au the contraire, their dominance of the energy mix would be a disaster for the republic. Solar and wind create trifling amounts of power at a multiple of the cost of power made available by fossil fuels.

Increased reliance on pricy power from wind and solar would drive up the overall cost of energy, which in turn would drive up the cost of everything. EVERYTHING! Not just individual power bills, which would be bad enough. It takes energy to produce, transport, and market all the goods Americans take for granted. Even our service economy is a heavy user of energy.

Wind and solar power are also unreliable. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. This isn’t going to change.

In a dystopian wind and solar economy, say goodbye to the supermarket, to pain-free dentistry, to air-conditioning, to the modern hospital, to night baseball. While you’re up, take the hood off your car and make it into a planter because you’ll no longer afford to drive it. A fossil-fuel-free America would become, in short order, a third-world country. Life would once again become nasty, brutish, and short. Or at least a damn sight more straitened than the prosperity contemporary Americans are used to and take as a given.

There is enough oil and gas underground in America to supply energy needs for centuries, if the Sierra Club and other Lexus Luddites would allow us to use it. The problems associated with the burning of fossil fuels have been grossly exaggerated by the political Left for ideological reasons. Those who identify themselves as environmentalists slander fossil fuels — about which most enviros I’ve encountered know bugger all — in order to make themselves feel morally superior to others. To demonstrate how much more they LUV the planet than you do.

Most leftist politicians are another matter, less ignorant, more cynical and conniving. They cater to enviros and whoop us such frauds as global warming in order to increase their political power. The solution to global warming, and other environmental “problems,” is to tax and regulate, i.e. turn more political power over to government. Turn the decisions individuals and businesses have been making for centuries in the land of the free over to politicians and bureaucrats. Just what the Left has always wanted. Obama and his EPA are pushing this agenda at every level now, with very little resistance from Republicans, who, as usual, find themselves confused and cowed. In this instance by junk science that has proved popular with voters.

Right now, against all the available evidence and the urgings of good sense, the lefty alarmists hold the upper hand. A frightening number of Americans have been convinced that fossil fuels — the single thing most responsible for their long, healthy, prosperous, and easeful lives — are dirty, downright evil, and a danger to their very existence. (Review the theory of The Big Lie here.)

Which brings us to a superfluous campaign going on in Florida just now, in which solar boosters are attempting to make the state government a solar crusader. (Similar crack-pot campaigns are going on in other states — I write about this one because it’s in my front yard.) An outfit called Floridians for Solar Choice, largely funded by the usual left-enviro outfits, is pushing a state constitutional amendment that would make Florida a shill for solar with the following meat-axe language: “It shall be the policy of the state to encourage and promote local small-scale solar-generated electricity production and to enhance the availability of solar power to customers.”

Wow. This is clearer than a sunshiny day. This kind of mandate in the state’s governing document would doubtless lead to more solar-mandates and more subsidies, of which there are too many already. I can see solar industry grant-writers salivating now. With this language in the Florida constitution, the Florida Legislature might consider changing the legend on Florida’s automobile license plates from “The Sunshine State” to “The Solyndra State.”

This group’s published rationalization for this additional carve-out for the solar industry is that they wish to put solar on the free market with other power sources and allow power consumers to choose. They say this would drive down the cost of electric power, though they never get around to saying how. They say this would create a level-playing field for solar, when in fact it would oblige the state to discriminate against all other forms of power in favor of solar. Out-of-state solar companies would profit from this solar favoritism. Floridians would be handed the bill. 

It’s hard to imagine anyone paying the slightest attention falling for this laughable line. Solar wouldn’t last an hour on the open market. It’s only the massive subsidies and tax breaks that solar receives that disguise the fact that electricity generated by solar costs three times that of power generated with fossil fuels. No amount of new math will make it anything but a disaster to force more of this costly power on an already weak economy.

It would take industrial strength naïveté to believe that Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and Tom Steyer really wish to promote free markets. Still, many columnists and editorial writers among Florida’s mainstream media have been charmed. This is not difficult to do, and only those with an agenda would stoop to it.

The agenda is pretty clear. In addition to obliging Florida to whoop up and facilitate solar, the amendment would allow solar companies to install solar panels free of charge on homes and businesses and sell the power these panels generate to the property owners. And there is meat-axe language in the amendment that would prohibit the state from regulating solar companies. No one would benefit from this amendment other than the already politically charmed solar industry.

As it stands now, only utilities can sell electric power in Florida. One doesn’t have to be a fan of everything utilities do to see the reason for utility monopolies. If the corner drugstore goes belly-up, this can be inconvenient. If the power company goes belly up…

Floridians For Solar treats all opposition to its proposed amendment as nothing more than propaganda from rich utilities trying to protect their privileges and their ability to gouge the little guy on power. Floridians For spokesmen used this argument and more last Tuesday when arguing before the Florida Supreme Court that their amendment is both clear and only treats of one subject, requirements for constitutional amendments in Florida. Attorneys for utility companies and the Florida Attorney General’s office argued that the language does deal with more than one subject and is misleading in that it does not inform voters that the Florida Public Service Commission would not regulate solar companies as to service, territory, or rates.

The court will rule on the wording in due course, and should that be a legal thumbs up, Floridians For Solar will have to get 683,149 valid signatures of Florida voters on their petition before next summer in order for the amendment to appear on the November, 2016 ballot. If the language is turned down, it will likely be 2020 before another attempt is made, according to Steve Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the biggest financial backer of Floridians for Solar.

“I always think you want to run one of these things in a presidential year because you have a larger turnout and a whole different demographic,” Smith told the Jacksonville Business Journal.

A second constitutional amendment, called Consumers for Smart Solar, backed mostly by utilities and which largely maintains the status quo on solar, has recently begun to circulate. Press attention and public discussion on both amendments has been minimal. There’s no predicting what 2016 will bring. But for now solar power and these two amendments don’t seem to be on the radar of many voters, which is just as well because both of them are unnecessary. Floridians may need sun block when they go outside, especially in summer (11 months of the year hereabouts). But they don’t need solar power. 

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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