Ordinarily, when an industry comes to Washington to seek special favors from the government, it hires a lobbyist or two, meets with members of Congress, perhaps quietly donates some money to the right committee chair—but rarely does it hold a press conference to talk about why it wants to be given a leg up over the competition.
That’s what made a solar-industry breakfast, hosted today by Dow Corning, so interesting. Dow Corning, a major supplier to the solar industry, and its allies, including Abengoa Solar, BP Solar, Kyocera, Sanyo and Schott, put forth a long list of federal policies that they would like to see enacted to give solar power a jump-start and bring it to scale.
What do they want? A permanent manufacturing tax credit. Renewable Electricity Standards, with set-asides for solar, which would require utilities to buy a fixed percentage of their electricity from solar plants. So-called feed-in tariffs, which require utility companies to buy ”clean energy” at prices higher than average wholesale prices. Federal support for training workers and educating the public about solar. Loan guarantees. Requirements that federal agencies buy more renewable power for their own operations. Treasury grants of some sort. (See this press release for details.)
All this, of course, on top of either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gases and put a price on carbon emissions–—a policy that makes good sense, because it will capture the external costs of burning fossil fuels. Of course, a cap-and-trade scheme would also benefit low-carbon energy sources like solar.
Well, at least the industry is transparent. Not to mention brazen.