Easy to Dream Big when You Can Spend Other People’s Money, and Really, Why else Would You Build Solar Power in Michigan?

Crain’s Detroit Business reports:

A solar power work group in Michigan is making progress discussing the possibility of expanding the current utility-sponsored solar incentive program ….

But the real question is whether DTE and Consumers will voluntarily expand their programs — as environmentalists, manufacturers and solar installers have been asking the state to require for job creation and public health reasons — before the programs expire in 2015.

Involved in the solar power work group discussion are state regulators, solar PV installers, solar PV manufacturers, environmental groups, and the state’s two large regulated utilities, DTE and Consumers Energy Co., who collect a regulator-approved renewable energy surcharge from their customers.

Not mentioned in the article are the views of retail electric power consumers, whose money is up for grabs, nor anyone thinking of federal taxpayers’ stake in the matter.

There is a respectable answer to the question “why else would you build solar energy in Michigan?” If you have strong pro-solar commitments, for ethical or other reasons, the you may well feel strongly enough about it to be willing to spend your own money on a system. Or, if you are off-grid or want to be, solar is one way to stay powered.

But the answer most prevalent in the work group, at least if the Crain’s article is a guide, is much less respectable: they are mostly people who feel strongly enough about solar power–or the money they might make from it–that they want to force their unwilling neighbors to pay.

Background on the Michigan solar power work group can be found at the pro-solar-policy Michigan Land Use Institute.

2 thoughts on “Easy to Dream Big when You Can Spend Other People’s Money, and Really, Why else Would You Build Solar Power in Michigan?

  1. Nah, too much slippage. I’m all in favor of gasoline taxes in the user fee context (including a carbon component if part of a broader-based carbon tax), but otherwise fuel taxes should go to roads and closely-related transportation projects. I should post a link to my Texas Public Policy Foundation presentation in which I told that conservative/pro-market group’s audience to raise taxes (that’s why they call me “Mr. Popular”–I’m such a crowd pleaser).

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