Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dear Bureau of Land Management

Dear BLM

Please don't open up public lands to solar developers. Every European country that has tried supporting solar farm development has subsequently revoked support. Why have farms lost support? Simple, solar farms bust subsidy budgets. This is why Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the U.K. and the Czech Republic have all sharply curtailed and/or cancelled their support of solar farm development. Note that Germany, France, Italy et cetera have not cancelled support for rooftop solar. There's good reason for this - rooftop solar is much more cost effective. Even in cloudy Germany solar electricity costs about half as much as retail electricity from the utility (12 ct/kWh vs 24 ct/kWh). The U.S. solar market is headed in the same direction. Despite the best of intentions, BLM is subverting the natural and rational course of development for solar by encouraging an unsustainable build out of farms.

The mega-solar crowd doesn’t promote their imagined future out of green righteousness – it’s pure greed. The public at large may currently support solar farm development but that’s only because they don’t yet understand all the hidden costs. Each new transmission project or upgrade that goes in to accommodate an extra gigawatt (GW) of solar farms will cost one to two billion dollars (See Sunrise Powerlink). Rate payer will be on the hook for these unnecessary transmission costs. Consider also that the above market Power Purchase Agreements associated with solar farms will cost rate payers another one to two billion dollars in extra electricity charges over the 20 year life of the PPA deal. Each GW of solar farm will also cost public coffers a front loaded 600 million to a billion dollars in lost tax receipts due to the 30% investment tax credit. Please don’t encourage this irresponsible waste of money. We shouldn’t be making it any easier to build these farms – we should be making it harder.

I’m a die hard pro-solar guy but I believe solar belongs on school rooftops, on homes, over box stores and throughout the community. When you develop solar locally it puts solar in the public’s eye and in the public’s mind – this leads to knock on adoption.

Again, I understand that the BLM has nothing but the best of intentions here but you’re playing with fire and the public is going to end up getting burned. Leave our wild lands be. Please don't open up public lands to solar developers.

Respectfully,

PhotoMofo

The BLM will be taking public comments concerning the competitive leasing of public lands until February 27th. You can submit a comment here.

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