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Tags: florida | hurricane | irma | solar panels | solar energy

Hurricane Irma Left Florida Solar Homeowners in the Dark

Hurricane Irma Left Florida Solar Homeowners in the Dark
In this NOAA-NASA GOES Project handout image, GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it makes landfall on the Florida coast as a category 4 storm taken at 14:30 UTC on September 10, 2017. (NOAA-NASA GOES Project via Getty Images)

Michael Dorstewitz By Monday, 25 September 2017 07:01 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Florida homeowners discovered this month that not only is solar an excessively expensive and inefficient energy source, it also can’t be used when it’s needed the most — during a power blackout.

When close to 40 percent of Floridians were without power after Hurricane Irma ravaged nearly the entire peninsula, those with solar panels were denied their use until the local energy grid was back up and running.

They were left out in the cold — or in this case, sweltering under the Florida sun.

Adding to their misery, they had to listen to a neighbor’s whole-house generator running throughout the night, providing light, A/C, and entertainment, while the solar users huddled around candlelight eating cold food and drinking warm water.

FPL Rules

The reason for the solar blackout is a Florida Power and Light (FPL) rule that ties solar power to the electric grid. FPL, one of the state’s largest electrical utilities, lobbied heavily for this rule.

The company states on its website that, “Operating your renewable system without the bi-directional meter can result in an inaccurate meter reading causing your bill to increase.”

Homeowners who made a substantial investment in solar were less-than-thrilled.

Solar’s Checkered Past

Even absent the FPL rule, solar-generated power is an iffy proposition at best. One would think that a sun-rich state like Florida would be an ideal environment to reap the rewards of a home solar plant — free energy, right? But that’s not necessarily the case.

From its very beginning, solar was touted as the green energy source of the future — it was advertised as clean, renewable and best of all free.

Apart from the fact that panels only produce power when the sun’s shining, solar is the most expensive source of energy available to consumers, according to a 2013 report. Surprisingly, “free,” offshore wind nips at solar’s heels as the second-most expensive.

In other words, if you think electricity is expensive now, wait until it’s free. AOL reported:

Calculating the cost of generating a kilowatt hour of electricity by tallying the cost of building a facility, operating it, and paying for the fuel it consumes — then amortizing all this across all the electricity it's expected to produce in its lifetime — [Axiom Capital’s Gordon] Johnson points out that solar photovoltaic power costs about 22 cents a kwh. Solar thermal power, where sunbeams are reflected and concentrated on a heat-retaining medium such as salt or graphite to store heat for later use in generating electricity, costs even more — about 32 cents a kwh.

So what came out to be the cheapest energy option? Plain ol’ natural gas, which costs six to nine cents per kilowatt hour, versus solar’s up to 32 cents. Although solar fuel costs are insignificant, the investment in the power plant — panels, battery system, etc. — drives the price into the stratosphere.

A Failed Industry Based on Subsidies

Given this sad state of affairs, the only way solar has succeeded at all is through heavy subsidies at both the manufacturing and the consumer end.

But subsidies did little to help. Beginning with Solynrda, which defaulted on its $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, one-by-one, additional solar panel manufactures experienced financial problems despite having received federal subsidies.

Conclusion

There’s no question but that solar will have its day — it’s just not this day. But odds are, the technology won’t be developed and perfected through government subsidies. Handouts offer manufacturers no incentive for improvement.

Inroads into solar technology will likely come from companies already in the energy industry — companies like ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, the very ones liberals and environmentalists despise.

In short, subsidies reward failure; free markets reward success.

And if you live in Florida, the problem just becomes worse.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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MichaelDorstewitz
Florida homeowners discovered this month that not only is solar an excessively expensive and inefficient energy source, it also can’t be used when it’s needed the most — during a power blackout.
florida, hurricane, irma, solar panels, solar energy
698
2017-01-25
Monday, 25 September 2017 07:01 PM
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