Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Tennessean got the headline wrong re the solar industry

Great article by Chas Sisk but I would suggest a different headline than theirs which was: "TN's solar industry faces clouded future." I would suggest this headline: "Vote seeking Tennessee politicians and bureaucrats arrogantly and wrongly chose a few large solar manufacturers to be the recipients of huge taxpayer funded bribes but they chose wrongly and now taxpayers are left holding an empty bag." Its a little longer but it captures the nuance.

Oh, and the quote by Commissioner Hagerty (see below) is priceless. Let me interpret, what he really said was, "with 20/20 hindsight, I can see clearly that we screwed up on these taxpayer funded solar bribes....of course, I was not commissioner when those decisions were made so I will be undeterred in making lots of new taxpayer funded what if I choose a few lemons, its not like its my money".

When prices were high, many U.S. solar panel makers, including Solyndra, Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar and New York-based SpectraWatt, bet that they could corner the market with new panel designs that were more efficient or did not use silicon. As prices fell, they have been forced into bankruptcy.

“All of a sudden … you’ve had a real crisis for manufacturers,” said Stephen Lacey, a member of the energy team at the Center for American Progress.

Lower prices have been good for companies that buy and install panels. The cost of solar power has drawn closer to that of other forms of energy, and the industry grew by 67 percent in 2010, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

But along with the ongoing financial crisis, the downturn in the market has frozen new investments in solar facilities. In the current environment, Tennessee officials are reluctant to consider new incentives for the industry.

“We’re not going to try to incentivize something that is not going to happen,” Hagerty said.