Monday, November 20, 2006

 

Solar business is too good not to subsidize...

Today’s Washington Post has a Business Section piece on the business prospects for non-oil sources of energy: A Sunnier Forecast for Solar Energy. In short, business is good and getting better. However, although Post writer Steven Mufson doesn’t specifically address the matter, there is a hint that maybe government subsidies are a factor:

“Expansions like BP's add another reason -- along with environmental concerns and national security -- for the boosters of solar, wind power and biofuels to use in pleading for more government support in the form of purchases, targets, import limits, subsidies and tax breaks for alternative energy.”

Yeah, that’s a great business model; pretty much just mimicking Microsoft’s game plan. I’m sorry but I’m still waiting for my local shale oil gas station to open up. Realistically, the only sure-fire way to make these alternative energy sources economically viable is to let the market decide if and when they come of age.

Of course, that could be a problem here in Maryland because we won’t have to worry about rising energy costs and alternatives to our current energy suppliers for the next few years. You see, we’re lucky; we got Martin O’Malley coming in to be our next governor. I’m confident therefore that Constellation will gladly continue to supply us cheap energy...if only for the honor of being located in such a business-friendly state.

This all makes me appreciate our oil, coal and electrical companies even more. They have to go through considerable risk and expense to bring oil and coal to the surface, transport them considerable distances to convert them into a viable energy source for delivery to us. Meanwhile, solar companies just have to throw a solar panel on the roof...and yet somehow we still find it cheaper to go the coal and oil route.

Finally, this being the Washington Post, a gratuitous slam at our current economy is de rigueur:

“Many of the jobs are good ones, in contrast to the low-wage food-service jobs that have bolstered employment statistics without improving quality of life for the people who hold them.”

…but I’m guessing those “low-wage food-service” job holders are still better off than those now and soon-to-be laid off newspaper workers around the country who are losing their “good” jobs because, collectively, they haven’t been doing a very good job.

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