Marin clean energy sounds too good to be true: it’s both cheap and green. Please help me determine whether it’s for real or is just a green boondoggle.
Today’s Marin IJ, our local newspaper, has an article celebrating the fact that 4,354 solar panels, installed at a cost of $5.5 million, will start generating energy for three hundred homes that will pay about $130 per month for this clean, renewable energy. The energy will be delivered through MCE (formerly Marin Clean Energy), an entity that claims to provide cheap renewable energy to those who have signed on.
I have to say, this makes no sense to me. As I understand it, one of the main problems with “green” or “renewable” energy is that it’s not cost-effective. It certainly hasn’t been cost-effective in Germany.
If it were cost-effective (or so my thinking goes), people would be lining up to buy it instead of having to be bribed with government incentives. Moreover, unless things have changed a lot in the last eight years, money that goes into green businesses tends to enrich a few people (Al Gore and some Obama friends), while vanishing into a sinkhole as far as everyone else is concerned.
A lot of the time, indeed, all this green energy stuff seems like welfare for rich people. I’ve blogged before about the disgrace of electric car subsidies for rich people, a situation that has changed only slightly in the past few years. (California is now offering slightly larger incentives to lower-income people, although it’s still a wealth transfer to people with more, rather than less, money.)