Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, had harsh words for the solar industry in comments to the county chamber on June 14.
“Solar power is not new, not promising and certainly not cheap,” he said. The costs of a heavily subsidized solar industry are buried in taxes, and are an example of free-market meddling that drives outspoken conservative crazy.
“If you leave prices alone they convey valuable data that consumers need to make rational decisions in the marketplace,” he said. “Subsidies corrupt that data, and entice people into making uneconomical decisions.
“Solar power has been sold to us as a great thing; it just needed to be subsidized a little bit… protect it, pour some money into research and development … this new promising technology will lead us into a Valhalla of clean, cheap electricity,” he continued. “That’s s a lie.”
McClintock recounted the invention of solar voltaic panels by French Physicist Antoine César Becquerel in 1839 and then pronounced, “In 170 years of technological advancement and God know how many billions of dollars in public subsidies we have not yet invented a more expensive way to produce electricity.
“And it’s not just the panels,” he said. “Becuase the power source is intermittent the gas turbines still have be running as a backup.”
He called the transmission problems “horrendous,” because the low output of both solar and wind can’t be transmited long distances over conventional power lines, requiring expensive high-tension DC lines.
“Nobody in their right mind is going to do all this unless the cost is hidden in other people’s electricity bills and in your taxes,” he said.
“That’s what we’ve been doing, and its a large reason that Californians, despite having a very low per capita electricity usage, have the highest electrical rates in the nation,” he added.
PG&E’s local governmemt relations spokesman Brian Jensen sat to the congressman’s left nodding in agreement. Jensen emceed the lunch presentation as the current chamber president.