Rebuttal: Recognize Changing Economics In Clean Energy Space

I am writing in response to an article published in your paper on Dec. 8, 2018 by Jonathan Duhamel in which Mr. Duhamel recommended that Arizona repeal the renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2025.

The thrust of Mr. Duhamel’s assertions appear to rely on an article he wrote more than five years ago in which he argued that solar and wind were more expensive than conventional generation. While these assertions were mostly in error in 2013, they are wildly outdated and out-of-step with the trends in today’s marketplace.

It’s important to recognize the changing economics in the clean energy space. Today’s transition from fossil fuels to clean sources makes sense – not only from an ideological perspective, but also from a fiscal one.

The price of solar and wind has come down so rapidly in just the past few years that it is now as affordable, or in many cases, less expensive than gas and coal.

Recently, the financial advisory firm Lazard, Inc. issued an analysis confirming the unsubsidized costs of electric power from renewable sources of energy “are already cheaper than fossil fuels, and prices keep plunging.”

This transition to clean energy sources is happening all over the country, regardless of whether you live in a red, blue or purple state. Why? Because it has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with saving money for consumers, businesses and ratepayers.

Arizona was the first state to adopt a renewable energy standard in 2000, which was updated it in 2006. However, today every state surrounding Arizona have goals of 50% or more while we lag with a 15% goal.

Let me give you a real-world example of cost savings: I purchased solar panels last year because my APS bills kept getting more expensive. My electric bill in August 2017 was $366.00 for two people. After my solar was installed, my bill went down to $32.00. I love getting electricity from the sun which is very abundant in Arizona. The solar installation was a no hassle experience and no maintenance is required. I might add that my solar has produced zero emissions and indeed has avoided tons of carbon emissions.

Solar panels are guaranteed by the manufacturers for 25 years but are expected to last for 50 years or more. Solar panels installed in the 1980s are still performing very well and they are made from totally recyclable materials.

Arizona should take advantage of its ample solar resources and save consumers money. Our existing renewable energy standard of 15 percent helps – and a greater percentage would be even better for ratepayers.

Richard Toth

11 Comments

  1. Just read where Bill Gates has dropped solar & wind in favor of nuclear. I’ve always thought anything that is stationery used nuclear & things that move use oil & gas. Seems simple to me.

  2. Even if that savings of $344 figure is correct — and that is one HUGE electric bill! — it merely gets applied to amortizing the (usually very high) cost of installing those solar panels.
    I became a fan of so-called “alternative energy” source about 1972, though less of solar power than of others. (I especially liked alcohol fuel for many uses, but government involvement has chased the cost of fuel alcohol sky high! And wreaked havoc in food crops!)
    When private companies such as ARCO were doing the research and seeking ways to make solar, and other, alternative energy sources available to consumers, I was fascinated by the process.
    Then, as so often happens, government got involved!
    Along came subsidies. Costs soared! Efficiency dropped.
    Now almost all — almost, but not all — solar panels are made in China, and, at least of the ones I’ve seen and researched, the quality is low — as we’ve learned to expect of products from China.
    Their electrical conversion capability declines and after sometimes as little as 10 years, the panels have to be replaced. (More pollution in the landfills!)
    And usually their cost has not yet been amortized!
    Where I am, Cochise County, Southeastern Arizona, we have (though not right this moment) plenty of sunshine and lots of wind.
    Our … using the word loosely … soil is quite good for such crops as Jerusalem artichokes which are, or were, considered excellent as a source for fuel alcohol.
    But, as usual, the worst and most persistent obstacle to alternative energy is government. Government at all levels.
    Permits, fees, inspections, licenses.
    Though I’ve never met Christopher Cole, I’ll bet he will agree with me: The best boost to alternative energy use and expansion of use is a free society, meaning a free market.
    With free minds in a free market, market forces would drive costs and prices down. More people would then be able to use the alternative energies.
    Hey! How about businesses in or coming to Arizona creating the machinery and equipment? How is that for a concept? Jobs for Arizona!
    I can’t think of a better state for manufacturers of solar and wind, and maybe even alcohol, generators than Arizona.
    But we must, immediately, get all levels of government out of the way of freedom and free enterprise.
    Mr. Todd’s obscenely expensive electric bill would never have come into being if we had been living in a free society.
    His, and our, bills can drop dramatically if we can reclaim our freedom, if we can create a free market, one in which entrepreneurs and home tinkerers (so much of the alternative energies can be realized by home craftsmen) are allowed to be free, allowed to create and produce.
    Again: What better state than Arizona?

  3. What exactly is the “ideological perspective” that Todd refers to that he says makes sense of the decision to switch from fossil fuels to solar? What does ideology have to do with science and economics, the only rational bases upon which to make the decision on what fuel is preferable?

  4. There was an article recently forget where that spoke of the ‘wind farms’ and others loosing their rear ends so bad that they no longer provide maintenance support to the big wind turbins. I was recently in Kalif and there were many NOT in operations and many had grease and other products running down the sides of the tower itself.

    My question here is WHO is paying who to be putting all the solar arrays around government places like the schools, parks etc. Somebody I am sure is getting a big kickback.

  5. Without subsidies and mandates, solar would be much more expensive. See my article:
    https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2018/02/25/can-we-afford-electricity-from-wind-and-solar-generation/

    Using solar and wind energy is one thing; being forces to use them by government mandate is quite another thing that should not be allowed. We should rely upon the free market and let utility companies generate electricity by the method they see as most efficient, cost effective, and reliable. Most renewable energy sources are none of those things.

  6. The obvious questions are
    How much did your solar array cost?
    How long will it take to break even?
    Will you even be alive then?

  7. It is interesting that Mr. Todd did not include a purchase price and tax credits in his “real world example”. By leaving out the purchase price and tax credits, of which the taxpayers pay, he makes it impossible the accurately access the true cost of taxpayer subsidized solar. His opinion reads more like a propaganda piece for the green energy movement.

    • A tough call, a hit piece or regurgitated talking points?
      I failed to find it “interesting” that Mr. Todd deliberately failed to include his real world out of pocket cost for his zero emission producing solar array, but of course that wasn’t suitable to support his agenda driven narrative.
      While I’ve read numerous articles authored by Jonathan Duhamel over the years on almost every possible subject, I’ve always found his articles well throughout, extreamly interesting, scientifically insightful, in-depth and extreamly informative, sadly these are qualities that somehow escaped your contribution Mr. Todd.
      Thanks for sharing Mr. Todd

      The Oracle

  8. So, you had a drop of $334 in your monthly electric bill. How much of that drop was due to the subsidies taken from the poor by force (explicit or implicit)?

    Christopher Cole
    Chair
    Pima County Libertarian Party

    • Also remember they are paid the Retail value for the electricity they produce. This causes the rest of the rate payers to cover the lost income to the electric provider.

      The rich stick it to the taxpayer twice, just so they can virtue signal.

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