One of Hillary Clinton’s wackier ideas is to build half a billion solar panels — at taxpayer expense. It would be one of the largest corporate welfare giveaways in American history. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) estimates that the cost of the plan will reach $205 billion. That’s a lot of money to throw at Elon Musk and all of Hillary’s high-powered green energy friends.
By the way, there are only 320 million people in the country so her plan would mean more solar panels than people. If Hillary has her way, the entire landscape in America will be blighted by windmills and solar panels. How is this green?
The economics here are even worse. Back in the 1970s Washington made a big bet on green energy with synthetic fuels and renewable fuels. The programs crashed and were all mercifully killed off during the Reagan years. Billions of dollars went down the drain. George W. Bush made a big bet on switch grass and wood chips to produce energy. President Obama has spent more than $100 billion on wind and solar subsidies. Instead of energy independence, we got bankruptcies like Solyndra.
A lesson of the last several decades is that the government has a horrible record of intervening in energy markets. Mr. Obama was running around the country in his first term warning that America was running out of oil. He wasn’t paying attention to the shale oil and gas revolution and the advent of clean coal technology that overnight doubled our fossil fuel resources. At the very time that natural gas prices were falling to $2 per cubic million feet, the government was trying to force feed the nation on wind and solar power which costs three to five times more per kilowatt hour of electricity.
All of this is supposed to save the planet from greenhouse gases and catastrophic planetary warming, but then why not use our cheap, clean and super abundant natural gas? Mr. Obama’s own Department of Energy (DOE) notes that natural gas has been the main factor contributing to the big reduction in U.S. carbon emissions. Natural gas has arguably done more to reduce pollution than virtually all the green energy programs in history. Yet the left is against natural gas production. Nuclear power would also be an obvious and easily achievable form of clean and reliable electric power but the greens hate nukes too. They want to go with the energy sources that are least reliable and in need of the most taxpayer assistance.
The DOE has also admitted that the dollar subsidy per kilowatt of electricity generated is at least 10 times higher than from coal or natural gas. Solar is a very expensive way to produce electricity — as is wind power.
The final irony of the Clinton plan is that as the IER points out, the solar industry is “completely dominated by the Chinese. So $200 billion of American tax dollars will be used to subsidize extraordinarily expensive solar power panels that are mostly made in China and we will stop producing the cleanest fuel of all, natural gas, which is made in America. We could be shipping America’a oil and gas around the world, but we can’t because Hillary Clinton’s State Department wouldn’t allow the pipelines to be built.
And to think Hillary Clinton is accusing Donald Trump of being crazy.
• Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and co-author of Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Regnery, 2016).