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Taxpayers Protection Alliance releases new report on rooftop solar's 'House of Cards'

on March 31, 2015

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has released a new report about the heavily-subsidized solar industry, "A House of Cards:  Solar Energy’s Subsidy-Based Business Model."  In the report, TPA concludes that Big Solar’s heavy reliance on government handouts threatens taxpayers with another Solyndra.  This report is another in a series that measures the impact of government solar subsidies and preferential treatment on taxpayers and consumers.

The renewable energy world was abuzz recently over news that the empty California office space once occupied by Solyndra, the most notorious of America’s green stimulus debacles, is now being leased by another rising star in the solar space, Elon Musk’s SolarCity.  This was heralded in industry circles as long-sought redemption—as proof that Big Solar finally is emerging from Solyndra’s shadow.

“Big Solar cannot simply reoccupy Solyndra’s office space and declare victory without first making fundamental changes,” said David Williams, President of Taxpayers Protection Alliance.  “The American people and their elected representatives should have no faith that other Solyndras are not also poised to collapse like a house of cards.  Why should taxpayers have confidence in Big Solar when the same subsidy-based business model that created Solyndra continues to dominate an unprofitable industry?”

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.  But none of this has worked—solar energy remains prohibitively expensive and therefore less than 1 percent of the electricity consumed by Americans comes from solar energy sources.

As the new report states, “The same week that brought news of SolarCity’s symbolic move also brought news of its mounting losses, which continue despite huge infusions of tax dollars and other industry perks that would seem to make profitability a cinch. SolarCity reported a net loss of $141 million for the 4th quarter of 2014, despite a 52 percent increase in revenue, strong demand, and clear dominance in the rooftop solar market. That compared to a nearly $40 million loss during the same period in 2013.”

“Look past the company’s audacious ambitions and explosive growth. Ignore for a moment the Musk mystique and media hype that lends it cache and keeps customers and investors mesmerized. What you see is an untested business model heavily dependent on government handouts and financing schemes of baffling complexity, which have, thus far, produced more red ink than reliable energy,” states the new TPA report.

“The boom America’s solar energy industry is enjoying—some might even call it a “bubble”—results not from overwhelming competitive market success, nor from long-promised technical breakthroughs that finally made solar a major player in the U.S. energy sector.  On the contrary, Solar today remains a niche energy provider, generating just 0.6 percent of all U.S. electricity, despite nearly four decades of taxpayer generosity, government favoritism, and pampered treatment,” notes the report.


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