in Houston, Texas
Dim prospects for passage of $400 million solar energy subsidy; Texas state Rep. Drew Darby proposed monthly tax on power users
Monday, May 09, 2011, 10:11AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
solar panels

Even after a dramatic reduction in customer charges to raise the money, the Legislature isn’t interested in mandating a $300 million to $400 million subsidy for solar energy.

State Rep. Drew Darby’s House Bill 2961 has been given an overcast reception, left pending since April in the House State Affairs Committee, according to a story in today’s San Angelo Standard Times.

Darby, R- San Angelo, had originally proposed slapping a monthly tax on industrial, commercial and residential power users to raise as much as $1.2 billion, money that would then be offered in rebates to people and businesses wanting to install solar energy systems.

After some of his colleagues objected to the ambition of his plan, Darby scaled back the fees to raise an estimated $300 million to $400 million over a five-year period to fund the rebates.

Texas is one of the only large states that doesn't have a solar incentive program, the Standard Times says. Solar technology has always been heavily subsidized by the government because its cost of power generation has never been competitive with coal, or even wind.

The Legislature was no more interested in subsidizing the solar industry in 2009 when a $500 million solar rebate program died. Darby, however, isn’t giving up.

"We never say never around here because we are actively looking at all times for opportunities," Darby tells the newspaper. "And I think there are other bills moving through the process that I think will be opportunities to lend the ideas we had in our solar initiative to their bill through amendments, et cetera, and hopefully we can add these ideas and come away with something that supports the solar industry."
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of solar panels by flickr user spanginator, used via a Creative Commons license.
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