Tennessee Solar Energy Center

Thanks to my friends at the Tennessee Solar Energy Center for their kind words, and for redistributing my recent article Energy Policy — Looking for the Broad Side of the Barn. They write: “TSEA has been following Craig Shields, blogger on green energy, a battle-hardened veteran in the fight to bring in the Green Energy Age.  (We) strongly recommend his site.”

They then go on to explain:

In this article Craig is focusing on the difficulties in bringing experts from different areas together to focus on ways to create a comprehensive finance program to promote our next generation of electric power. There are so many voices in the discussion that it is hard to imagine a conclusion that will satisfy everybody with a dog in the fight. Maybe what is needed is for a non-biased party that has a solid reputation for integrity to compile all the various inputs and try to make sense in offering a solution that all will hate but begrudgingly agree is a solution they can live with.

The also note the findings of The University of Tennessee’s Baker Center “Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment” dated May 1, 2012:

We find that solar energy is following the same incentive-driven path as other traditional energy sources before it, consistent with the government’s decision to incentivize energy production for a variety of policy purposes. We also conclude that the federal investment in solar energy could bring about a number of tangible benefits, including increased employment, global business opportunities, and energy supply diversity.

Please accept my most sincere good wishes to you on this most critically important undertaking. It seems to me that the major challenges the industry faces are incentives, i.e., there is very little financial incentive on anyone’s part to make this happen. In particular, take power utilities, who make money by getting ratepayers to cover their costs plus a profit. The fact that the sun is free fuel (where coal comes at a cost) means nothing to them, since they’re passing on the cost of fuel to ratepayers anyway.

We need to rethink our regulation of power utilities before we can rationally expect solar to take off – at least in the traditional, centralized model.

Thanks again for calling attention to my article.


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