in Houston, Texas
Texas Rep. Drew Darby proposes monthly fees - $1 for homes, $5+ for businesses - to subsidize solar power
Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011, 04:34PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
solar array

Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, wants electricity users in Texas to pony up $1.2 billion over the next five years to subsidize the solar power in Texas.

Darby’s proposal, to tack on $50 a month for every industrial meter, $5 for every commercial meter and $1 for every residential meter is outlined today by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, tells the Star-Telegram that the $1.2 billion could produce 1,000 megawatts of solar generation over five years.

Texas currently has a total solar capacity of between 15 and 30 megawatts. Although exact estimates are sketchy, solar power currently provides much less than 0.5 percent of all power used annually in the state.

The entire history of the solar industry has been one of taxpayer or ratepayer subsidy, or jump starts, as solar advocates like to call them. Solar power figured prominently in a $290 million subsidy for energy projects in Texas through the American Recovery and Reinvestment ActTexas Watchdog jump-started a look at the return on taxpayer investment for those federal stimulus solar projects and found the initial costs would not be offset by energy savings for several decades.

A 2009 bill that would have billed ratepayers to generate $500 million for a solar rebate program died before coming to a final vote in the Legislature.
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of solar array on the annex to the Austin Convention Center by flickr user clickykbd, used via a Creative Commons license.
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