Rooftop solar’s jobs potential: superheated claims, half-baked stats
An enlightening commentary by the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy takes on some of the urban myths often perpetuated by the rooftop-solar industry and its enthusiasts. Such challenges to conventional wisdom are a refreshing antidote to the hype surrounding solar power. They also have the potential to reorient public policy toward reality, assuming our policy makers pay heed.
Rooftop solar's vaunted—and, arguably, overstated—potential for job creation is an example. In Louisiana, where generous tax subsidies to the solar industry are coming under scrutiny thanks to an eye-opening report by the state's Public Service Commission, the industry's lobby is insisting that subsidies are needed in part to sustain job growth. Yet, as the Partnership's Lance Brown points out:
"Now consider that Louisiana taxpayers are pouring in $42 million in public subsidy, or $35,000 per job, to support the state's solar industry. That's a lot of money for such a low ranking, especially for an industry that is actually losing jobs.
Good money after bad?
Of course, to hardcore rooftop-solar enthusiasts, probably no amount of money spent propping up the industry is too much; they believe in solar power as an end in itself and vest it with almost mythic value.
Rank-and-file ratepayers and taxpayers, however, want value for their dollars and understandably will expect something closer to a cost-benefit-analysis of what they pay per kilowatt-hour. It's about time they get a sober rendering of the true cost of all new-generation energy sources, whose value too often is conveyed in warm-and-fuzzies rather than dollars and cents.