The Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA), a Koch brother-backed organization has issued a new report, Filling the Solar Sinkhole, which claimed that the U.S. has given $39 billion in subsidies annually to the solar industry. It's poppycock, responded the solar industry. It’s an attack aimed directly at ending the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is currently at 30 percent and set to fall in 2017.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has fought back with an op-ed retorting the claims. “Aside from spelling solar correctly, much of the report, Filling the Solar Sinkhole, is untrue or misleading—including its basic assertion that the U.S. solar industry receives $39 billion in annual subsidies,” SEIA’s Ken Johnson wrote. “Seriously? How can that be? How can an industry with a U.S. market value of $15 billion receive $39 billion in annual subsidies? The answer: it doesn’t.”
In the TPA report’s conclusion, the organization contended that solar is prohibitively expensive and attempted to claim that solar power costs three times more than electricity produced from natural gas or other sources. Yet solar is now coming closer than ever to be being cost-competitive with other sources of energy generation. It already is in Hawaii and is becoming increasingly so in California and other states.
It also appears, however, that the report bases most of its figures on other Koch-brother backed organizations. A move SIEA observed smacks of fuzzy math and dirty tricks. The Koch brothers have long fought against clean energy but this is likely the start of prolonged battle.
“The report doesn’t make it clear how it arrived at the $39 billion figure,” noted PV-Tech’s John Parnell. “Of the 26 references cited in the report, 16 of them are from organizations that were either founded by the Koch brothers, or have received funding from them.”
SEIA argued that the report is intended to “incite activists and generate scandalous headlines, when, in fact, no scandal exists.”
SEIA is getting more aggressive in its fight against these types of accusations, too. “If clean energy critics want a bare knuckle brawl, then they’re going to get one,” Johnson wrote. “Americans overwhelmingly support clean, renewable solar energy—and that scares the hell out of the Koch brothers and their lackeys.”
“Here’s the dirty little truth: few industries benefit more from the U.S. tax code than carbon-rich big oil,” Johnson said. “By their own estimates, oil and gas tax breaks amount to a staggering $100 billion over 10 years.”
The oil and gas companies continue to receive these subsidies despite producing record profits over the past few years. And the subsidies have been in place for more than half a century. Solar’s subsidies began in 2006, when the Bush administration created the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
Meanwhile, since then the solar industry has created 175,000 jobs with the employment growing by 85 percent in the past four years. It also pumps $15 billion into the economy annually.Tweet