Georgia's Watermelons: Georgia Is A Sucker State for Renewable Energy — By Joel Aaron Foster

May 7, 2014 by AFP

Georgia is a Southern agriculture state. Given this, it is hard to resist calling our renewable energy subsidies watermelons — green on the outside and red on the inside. And in the name of going green, Georgia is doing its part to prop up the disastrous and misguided energy policies of the Obama Administration; shifting the energy cost burden to taxpayers while a select few court the taxpayer funded subsidies that allow them to pursue the self congratulatory renewable energy subsidy push.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) gives a long list of subsidies available to residential and commercial energy users in Georgia. Particularly attractive are tax credits for solar energy. Alternative-fueled vehicle—tax credits are limited to $5 million per year per category. In addition, Georgia gave a $6.2 million grant to Range Fuels for cellulosic ethanol (company bankrupted in 2011) and $10,000 grants to filling stations for dedicating one pump for E-85 for three years. That’s your money!

Georgia’s government is mute on this leveraging of the taxpayers on behalf of the renewable energy subsidy scheme. Our agencies like the Public Service Commission, tasked with representing the people against the interest of overreaching government, gave no response to EPA’s Proposed CO2 Rule for New Power Plants. These rules allow no future coal plant construction and in the future force closure of existing coal-fired power plants. Not only has this killed hundreds of jobs but it is reducing the reliability of the energy that powers our everyday lives – energy reliability that has long been ensured by the presence of base load power from coal fired power plants.

On May 26, 2011, Obama’s EPA held public hearings in Atlanta on proposed rules on mercury abatement. This was followed by a public hearing on reducing carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants on October 23, 2013. AFP Georgia activist and retired nuclear engineering professor, Dr. James Rust, gave both written and verbal testimony against EPA’s proposed rulings at the May 26 and October 23 public hearings. No one from the Georgia Public Service Commission testified at these public hearings even though their offices are within walking distance. Commissioner Echols did testify in Washington that the EPA should allow Georgia greater flexibility in enforcing EPA rules.

Unfortunately, some of our friends on the Georgia Public Service Commission have actually promoted the use of solar energy subsidies and mandates in Georgia through their actions and inactions. In December 2013, the Georgia Solar Energy Association awarded the Public Service Commission its annual solar advocacy award after the Commission voted last Summer to mandate an additional 500 megawatts of solar energy be added by one private sector energy company.

EUCI, an industry leader in conferences, seminars, and short courses for the energy industry, is hosting a two-day conference on “An In-Depth Tax Planning for Renewable Energy Projects”. Tax dollar rewards for the renewable energy industry are so massive that it takes tax experts days of explanation to disseminate all the possibilities. Subsidies are available from the federal government in the form of tax credits, favorable income tax treatments, loan guarantees, grants, and mandates for energy source use. To add to lucrative renewable energy subsidies, many states add to the list and make costs of some projects approach zero. State subsidies in Georgia are given by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

All these items make a good case that Georgia is quite supportive of the Obama Administration’s efforts to eliminate fossil fuel use and make substitutions of expensive, unreliable renewable energy sources. Despite the constant and misleading talking points from the solar lobby, many of these renewable energy sources, however virtuous, would not be economically prudent without the existing subsidies. President Obama could ask for no better support for energy policies that threaten the nation’s economy. Very little media attention is given to these events. Georgians should be vigilant in monitoring politicians who support President Obama’s failed energy policies.