No More Feel Good Solar Games; Let’s Get Moving on Gas

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Vic Furman - American PrideVictor Furman
Upstate New York Landowner Shale Gas Activist


Vic Furman makes some poignant observations about the feel good solar games going on in Broome County and other parts of New York. It’s time to get real.

Broome County, like much of New York, has been playing some very stupid solar games, which I wrote about here and here. Those solar games were further exposed when Broome County Executive Jason Garner announced his budget this week. He did a radio interview on the “Bob Joseph Show” on Radio 1290. Garner went on the show to announcing a tax reduction of 1/2 of one percent, but Bob Joseph asked him if the previously projected $140,000 in annual savings was included into the budget. Hah! You can guess the answer.

“No, Bob, the savings was not projected into the budget as the solar farm is an unproven experiment. Therefore, we can not count on the savings or responsibly project them in the budget.”

A $4+ million dollar taxpayer-funded experiment with so little confidence in it by our leaders that they won’t even dare put the paltry projected savings into the budget? This is the state of Empire State politics.

These solar games are Broome County’s own “Buffalo Billion” scandal. They represent a complete debacle with respect to public trust. Even if they did produce the projected $140,000 in savings per year, it doesn’t even amount to 75¢ per year per resident, although each resident had to pony up $20 from somewhere. Would you bet $20 on an experiment that, at best, would give you back 75¢ per year? No one does that unless there using other other people’s money.

But, there’s more…

I was there when the Broome County solar games began; at the solar farm grand grid connection celebration when Jason Garner proudly projected his $140,000 in annual savings based on the previous three weeks of sunshine. It was the best three weeks of summer with sun everyday. Since then, it’s been cloudy and rainy almost every day. Will there be a reevaluation? I doubt it, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be FOILing the numbers on the first year anniversary.

A tax reduction of 1/2 of one percent is nice but what does that mean? Well, if your property tax bill is $3,000 a year, the savings amounts to $15 or 5 cups of coffee yearly at Dunkin Donuts and we’re still short the $5 of our money wasted on solar games. Maybe we’ll make it up in volume, though.

And, before anyone gets too excited, let’s talk about the increase of about 300% in sewage collection and treatment charges necessitated by renovation of a sewage treatment plant that is projected to cost $300 million and county, all largely attributable to mismanagement. Between 30 and 60 millions of raw sewage a day is being dumped into our Susquehanna River, due to these problems and, so far as I know, no fracking protestors have been seen or heard talking about this.

A brief search on line indicates the sewage is treated by simply holding the solids in a big tank, using a large rotating blade to break them into smaller particles, adding some bleach and then dumping the crap and the chemicals into the river. You’d think our anti-fracking friends would be concerned, but they’re not bothered at all it seems.

Let’s fix it. Let’s not experiment by throwing ratepayer and taxpayer money (Federal, state and local) on feel good experimental solar games that promise savings, but end up costing more. Let’s be honest with each other and not buy into the “buy now, save later” sales pitch of energy brokers whose actions only make them money, with no assurance of saving us a dime. There’s a lot being hidden by those who engage in these feel good solar games and the truth needs to come out from the dark. If it doesn’t, then we’ll all be living in the cold and dark unless we get moving with gas and fast.

Editor’s Note: Speaking of solar games, another reader sent me some material that may be of particular interest to Carolinians facing hurricane winds today. A Bloomberg story entitled “Hurricane Florence’s Brutal Winds Will Test the Carolinas Solar Boom” spells it out and notes the following:

Developers have built scores of solar farms in the region since that year, making North Carolina second to California among states, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The mix of large farms and rooftop systems in the region has solar proponents concerned.

“Absolutely,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower Corp., said by phone Tuesday. “If the panels were vertical to the ground, it would be like a sail to the wind. That would be the worst case.”

Need an example? Well, try this:

Solar panels destroyed by Hurricane Maria litter a solar farm on the grounds of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Check out the full Reuters story here and get a better quality picture to experience the devastation. It’s an important story. Solar games are not only economically foolish; they can be dangerous, too.


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