"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stupidity reigns supreme in Massachusetts

Don't worry about the sun - think about the subsidies!
"It is not a matter of how sunny it is" says Michael Bernier of Ernst and Young about the solar boom in Massachusetts, which would rank very low in the US in solar insolation as it is "better known for long, cold winters, gloomy springs, and gale-driven nor’easters". Federal and state subsidies coupled with forcing utilities to buy power at ridiculous rates keeps the accountants happy and allows non-economic  projects to proceed financed from the public trough. Ridiculous as it may seem, gloomy Massachusetts is installing more solar than Florida, Arizona or New Mexico, all states with an abundance of sunshine.

 Massachusetts is no California when it comes to sun. But that isn’t stopping the solar energy industry from flourishing here.
Massachusetts, better known for long, cold winters, gloomy springs, and gale-driven nor’easters, is undergoing an unlikely solar power boom, attracting solar companies from around the country that are installing systems for homeowners, businesses, and institutions.
Only California has a better solar market than Massachusetts, which tied Hawaii in rankings by Ernst & Young, the Big Four accounting firm that tracks the alternative energy industry. Massachusetts was the only northern state to crack Ernst & Young’s top 10, beating Florida (the Sunshine State), Arizona (home of the Sun Devils), and New Mexico (sun symbol on the state flag).
“It’s not a matter of how sunny it is,” said Michael Bernier, a senior manager at Ernst & Young. The “thing Massachusetts has been really good at is setting up an environment that helps renewable energy projects get done.”
That environment starts with New England’s traditionally high energy costs that can make photovoltaic systems more competitive here. Meanwhile, the falling solar panel prices, which have plunged more than 50 percent in the past two years, have combined with solar-friendly local policies to make solar installations even more attractive to homeowners and businesses.
In the past two years alone, solar energy-generating capacity in the state has more than doubled to 105 megawatts, ­according to the state Department of Energy Resources. That’s enough to power at least 15,750 homes.
The number of solar installation firms in the state has also exploded, to nearly 200 last year from about 43 in 2007. In total, state energy officials estimate that more than 1,300 solar energy firms — installers, manufacturers, and others — operate in Massachusetts, employing about 14,000.
SolarCity of San Mateo, ­Calif., a six-year-old installation company with 1,800 employees nationwide, entered the Massachusetts market in early 2011. The company installs solar panels at no cost to customers, then sells them power generated by the system, which SolarCity continues to own. The company is then able to take advantage of federal and state subsidies.

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