Monday, July 27, 2009

Wasting your money on solar panels

You want to know why I am so reluctant to support any hike in the gas tax? Because I don't trust that ODOT will spend the money wisely. The gas tax increase that passed this summer at least had a list of road projects that the funds would pay for, but I still don't trust them.

And in today's Oregonian, there is a story giving a perfect example of why they don't deserve our trust.

They want to spend $20 million installing up to 17,000 solar panels near the I-205 10th Street exit, in order to produce 3.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

Do the math. Assume a 6% annual cost of capital. Even with zero maintenance costs, the cost per KWH is above 37 cents. We buy residential electricty from PGE at about 9 cents a KWH.

Oh, but the state government doesn't think in terms of cost of capital. For them, the money is free. It's you and me who have to go earn it. And they already own the land - another real cost not figured into the equation.

If you read the Oregonian story, which is mostly about the objections raised to the project by residents of Oregon City and West Linn, you will notice something missing: any discussion of the monumental stupidity of wasting taxpayer dollars like this. The reporter obviously didn't even think to ask if this project made economic sense.

I guess in Oregon, things like that don't matter. As long as the energy is "renewable" then it doesn't matter what it costs.

And that is why I don't trust ODOT with more money.


Jim Ray said...

Thanks Bruce Starr & Thanks Larry George!

Hey Larry, you bellied up for the Dundee by-pass that most of us could NOT care less about. Thanks pal!

OregonGuy said...

Hey, you miss the point.

Because it's renewable energy, it's costless.

We don't have to pay for energy from the Sun. We get that free. And unless we find ways to harness that free source of energy, we're going to remain locked into a hydro-carbon energy system that is killing the world.

If we're not willing to pay the price for free energy the ocean levels are going to rise and polar bears are going to die out.

We need to pay whatever it costs to get free energy, regardless of the price tag.

(Sheesh. Some guys just don't get it.)

MAX Redline said...

Well, the deal is that ODOT doesn't have a lot of choice: Governor Tedddy mandated that state agencies use "renewable energy" - and hydro doesn't count.

ODOT is, however, bound by another rule which prohibits them from purchasing power at a higher cost than the norm, and as we all know, you have to pay extra for "green" energy.

Thus, their plan is to "invest" in solar, distribute the power to PGE, and then use the credit to purchase "green" energy at the price-point for "non-renewable" energy. It's the only way they can come up with to fulfill Teddy's "green" mandate without running afoul of the purchasing rule. They're in a classic Catch-22 situation, set up by a clueless governor.

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