Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Conservatives and solar subsidies

As you might suspect, I quite liked this article in the New York Times:  The Conservative Case for Solar Subsidies.  

It's particularly worth following the link therein to the report from the Congressional Research Service that tallies up the government R&D funding for oil, gas and nuclear over the years. 

I'm also presuming that Judith Sloan, if she could tear herself away from reading the Wall Street Journal over her tea and scones, would splutter while reading this:
And there’s nothing in free-market economic theory that precludes government support. Markets tend to underproduce what economists call positive externalities — that is, the broad social benefits, like a cleaner environment, that aren’t captured on a company’s balance sheet.

Solar panels, and the companies that make them, are replete with such benefits: They eliminate redundant power plants that otherwise lie idle, empower consumer choice and have fewer negative consequences than most other forms of energy. But markets don’t always reflect these, which is why it makes sense for subsidies to enter the picture.

The kerfuffle over the Solyndra collapse aside, many conservatives already agree, and have for years. When I was at the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, we believed that an across-the-board energy policy was by far the best approach — and that included solar. From both a market and an environmental point of view, supporting the solar industry should make sense, no matter which side of the aisle you come from.

1 comment:

Not Trampis said...

yeah a good article. sloany doesn't believe in externalities of this kind Steve!