Last night we watched a program on Nova about solar technology and its benefits and costs. One thing that struck us was how different the approach is between the US and Canada. In the US there are tax benefits and subsidies that encourage individual homeowners to deploy alternate energy solutions to reduce demand on the grid. Here in Canada governments lavish huge amounts of money on ‘renewable’ projects — like the wind farms going up all around us and despoiling the local rural areas and bird sanctuaries. But there is nothing to help the individual put up a couple of solar panels to provide part of their electricity needs.
Funny, I would have thought that in the end it would be cheaper to encourage local generation than these huge and dubious projects — to say nothing of the expensive transmission line upgrades and complex management programs to keep from destabilizing the grid when the wind fluctuates at an inconvenient time. If there were a couple of solar panels on my roof making 2-4kw during the day, that would be less power that I would draw from the grid — and in general my peak demands have been when the sun shines.
But I guess that in the end my private power project would only benefit my family and the folks I bought it from. And none of these are likely close to the seats of political power — so would afford little possibility to transfer public funds into other pockets. But then, I guess that is the real purpose of a political career — as my Dad used to say “try and vote for the guys who will steal the least”. And this rush of interest in ‘Green Power’ is a political windfall to raid the public funds on an unprecedented scale.