Sunday, June 12, 2011

Soaking the public by "Soaking up the sun"

Ontario's microFit program received macroAttention in a two-page article in the June 11 Ottawa Citizen, starting on the cover of the Homes section.  The story focuses on a few homeowners who have installed large photovoltaic solar arrays on their roof or on a free-standing pole-mount system.  Allan and Shelley Shusterman are featured in the article and they call it a win-win situation.  Unfortunately, they have ignored the unseen and helpless victims in this arrangement that makes it a big lose-win-win.

The unwilling victims are the rest of the citizens of Ontario, who lose out because they must foot the bill for this madness against their will.  The fundamental problem is that photovoltaic systems are completely uneconomical except in the most remote situations, such as in the country far away from the electrical grid or in space.  If it actually made any sense to install these systems, then they would sprout up all over the place without the use of government force against innocent citizens.  I have had a small solar system for 20 years because my cottage is on an island not connected to the grid, and I know from personal experience how expensive each watt of power is to produce. 

I have not installed any solar panels at my home, even though I live in a rural area with a large, south-facing roof, because I would be stupid to spend all that money to produce electricity when I can buy it about fifteen times cheaper, even from an inefficient government monopoly like from Hydro One. It would be like buying an electric car for $300,000 instead of a regular $20,000 car. Like almost every Ontario resident, I have chosen NOT to waste money on solar panels, yet the Ontario government is forcing me to pay others to put panels on their property.  The Shusterman's say "it's all money in the bank", "it's the best investment we've got" and "better than my stock portfolio, and the risk is nil".  This is a deliberate ignorance of the fact that all the risk is borne by their fellow citizens and their windfall investment return that is better than owning the shares of the great companies of Canada and the world (stock portfolio) is paid for by the people who have enough sense to see that solar panels are a poor investment.  The Shusterman's are using the force of government to make the rest of us pay 80.2 cents per kilowatt for their scheme when we know electricity can be economically produced for only about 5 cents per kilowatt.

I can see several of these solar panel systems not far from my home.  Every time I see one, it makes me mad to know my family's hard-earned money is being taken against our will by the Ontario government and given to people who are only too happy to take the money from their neighbors.  Whether they are ignorant of economics or doing it deliberately, they are still doing it. 

Why I do not install my own solar array and get back at those who are taking my money?  Because I am fully aware of how immoral the microFit program is, and being aware of it would make me guilty of doing deliberate harm to others.  Make no mistake - I like solar photovoltaics!  I like how the technology is improving and in time will hopefully become as economical as the current mainstream energy sources.  I applaud scientists who discover new energy technologies and companies that make them available to consumers.  But all this takes place in normal, free decisions made by individuals in any case, absent government coercion.  Government interference serves to distort the proper market signals and twists the economy into directions people do not wish to go.  How's this for a political philosophy: "if people using their own intellect and money will not buy solar panels then we will force them to pay for others to do so"?  What do we call this type of political system, where the state overrides the wishes of individuals, supposedly for their own good?  We call it socialism. 

I have a message to all of you out there who are already using the microFit program or who are planning to do so - please stop hurting the rest of us!  Go ahead and buy your panels, but don't sign up for the microFit program to force us pay for your decision!

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