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Solar Secrets
Shining a Light on the Darker Side of Solar Power

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Billions Blown on Solar Offer Little Bang for the Bucks

Solar Secrets on February 12, 2015

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) today published the first in a series of "Solar Spotlight" issue briefs, as part of a national campaign to educate Americans about the fiscal, economic and even environmental impacts of government support for the heavily-subsidized solar energy industry. In a new report, Filling the Solar Sinkhole: Billions of Bucks Have Delivered Too Little Bang, TPA concludes that solar subsidies, tax breaks and other preferences have cost taxpayers more than $39 billion annually - exposing Americans to substantial financial risk while distorting our nation’s energy markets. 

Read the report here: http://protectingtaxpayers.org/assets/files/solar-report-february-12.pdf

“American taxpayers spent an average of $39 billion a year over the past 5 years financing grants, subsidizing tax credits, guaranteeing loans, bailing out failed solar energy boondoggles and otherwise underwriting every idea under the sun to make solar energy cheaper and more popular,” concludes the TPA report-the first in a multi-part expose on the solar industry.  “But none of it has worked. Solar energy remains prohibitively expensive-often three times more than electricity produced from natural gas and other sources.  As a result, less than 1 percent of the electricity consumers by Americans comes from solar energy sources.”  Furthermore, over the past five years, the federal government spent an estimated $150 billion on solar energy and other renewable energy projects.

“We’re shining a bright spotlight on the darker side of solar power.  Taxpayer-backed loans to the solar industry, bailouts, and publicly funded grants cost Americans more than $39 billion annually.  Despite these massive costs, taxpayers aren’t even benefitting with lower electricity prices,” said David Williams, President of Taxpayers Protection Alliance.  “Government-backed solar boondoggles are rampant and include such devastating examples as the Solyndra loan, which cost taxpayers $535 million and left 1,100 employees without a job.  We must stop the next Solyndra.”

The new TPA report identifies a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of federal renewable energy-related initiatives for fiscal year 2010-discovering at least 345 different federal initiatives supporting solar energy.The programs are managed by nearly 20 agencies and support more than 1,500 different projects. And the Federal government is not alone in subsidizing solar energy.  Personal tax credits related to solar products are available in 20 states, 18 states maintain corporate tax credit and deduction programs, and 14 states and Puerto Rico offer taxpayer-funded grants to support solar electricity.

The TPA report includes other key findings:

  • Despite massive government efforts at great cost to taxpayers to encourage the use of solar energy, solar will make up only 0.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.
  • Supporters claim solar subsidies and tax breaks are creating jobs, but draining taxes out of the general economy to pay for those subsidies harm broader job-creating efforts. The net effect is to shrink the economy, not grow it.
  • The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California, which, despite reaping $1.6 billion in subsidies, produces electricity at a cost 3 times higher than traditional power and has requested $539 million in additional direct handouts from the federal government.
  • Increased solar usage has done nothing to decrease the cost of electricity to consumers. Nationwide, electricity rates have been steadily increasing 6% per year over the last 30 years, regardless of energy subsidies.
  • Because federally backed solar loans are guaranteed by tax dollars, banks have less incentive to effectively vet the quality of the project.

For more information, and to read the full report, visit www.SolarSecrets.org


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