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    Dear Sierra Club: You Are Right
    By Hank Campbell | September 22nd 2011 04:01 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

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    It isn't often I will agree with Club Sierra...I mean Sierra Club - if you have ever been to their offices you will know how easy it is to confuse the terms.

    They spend so much time latching onto whatever cause will generate donations it's hard to know if they believe in anything, much less science, and it can make you nuts.  Like Greenpeace, their baffling 'trust scientists when it comes to global warming but scientists are out to kill you with GMOs' stance is, in a nutshell, why progressives (not liberals, not Democrats, progressives) are so goofy in their anti-science beliefs. 

    Yet, in keeping with my nut motif, even a blind squirrel like Sierra Club finds a not once in a while.  And they did, with a study showing the government is charging onerous permit fees for green energy. 

    Fees send progressives into a rapture (well, whatever a rapture for atheists is) - if something can be taxed, mandated and centralized by government they generally love it.   But what about when ridiculous fees are preventing alternative energy like solar power?  Solar power is, in a word, goofy in its current state.  Apologists for the recent solar power boondoggles insist that 'smart private investors' are involved in sheer speculation like Solyndra but smart investors got involved because they knew Pres. Obama's administration would throw money at those companies.  And the government has, costing about taxpayers $1 million per job at companies that haven't even kept the doors open for two years.(1)

    So fees against solar power has to be a conflict for the progressive world view. Luckily, Sierra Club came down on the right side of this, arguing the fees are outrageous.  And they are.  Solar power will not save anyone money so tacking on a $19,000 permit fee in Sacramento is just another way for the bloated local and state governments in California to tax people.  Solar power might be okay even without saving any money if there was some belief it could break even and perhaps be better for the environment - but nothing is worth $19,000.


    SOLAR ELECTRIC PERMIT FEES FOR COMMERCIAL&RESIDENTIAL INSTALLATIONS IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY: A COMPARATIVE REPORT By Malcom Crawford, Carl Mills, Kurt Newick, Jim Stewart and Scott Troyer, Sierra Club

    They contend the 'break even' fee is just over $1,300 but even that is ridiculous.   Plain and simple, California has 12% unemployment because it can't hire more government employees due to the lousy economy and the hostile business climate dating back to the boondoggle of Gov. Grey Davis drove out real startups long ago.(2) Sure, solar power companies and stem cell start-ups are here but that's only because the state government has been willing to pad the deficit by subsidizing those two areas and the federal government has also thrown billions at solar power.   To knock that $1,300 fee even farther is easy, just stop adding more employees.  

    Sacramento officials claim they recently reduced some residential fees but residential solar power is an even bigger waste.  Someone putting a solar heating system on their roof is using more money and energy pumping the water up there than they would be using if they just heated their pool with gas when they wanted a hot pool.  In California, any pool with some sun is always nice.

    The solution to the fee issue is so simple even Sierra Club thought of it, but government will not want to implement it; base the fees on the actual work it takes to do the inspections and determine the safety, not the value of the equipment. They've also developed a calculator to help governments determine a realistic cost for a permit.  www.SolarPermitFees.org/PVFeeCalcCommercial.xls

    Nice work, Sierra Club.

    NOTES:

    (1) In fairness, Pres. Obama did call off the progressive witchhunt on the Keystone XL project, which will cost taxpayers nothing and net 120,000 jobs and make energy cheaper for all people, including the poorest - provided government doesn't raise gasoline taxes again.

    (2) There are still service start-ups but no real manufacturing company without government financing starts in California now.