Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James Taylor soundly defeated Floridians for Solar Choice chairman Tory Perfetti in a debate on creating a special monopoly carve-out for solar power in Florida, the Tampa Tribune and other media reports. The verdict throws cold water on media claims that grassroots conservatives and libertarians are uniting to support giving solar power its desired monopoly carve-out.
Floridians for Solar Choice, which receives 98 percent of its funding from the Atlanta-based anti-coal, anti-natural gas, anti-nuclear power group Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, is attempting to convince Florida free-market advocates that giving solar power – and solar power alone – the monopoly right to sell electricity directly to consumers from small-scale equipment advances free markets because it strikes a blow at regulated utilities.
In a March 24 debate hosted by the Tampa 912 Project, Taylor explained that the proposed solar monopoly carve-out does nothing to introduce free-market competition among utilities. Moreover, the solar monopoly carve-out extends and entrenches anti-free market forces by creating a new monopoly regime and giving the monopoly solely to the solar power industry.
Taylor pointed out the solar power industry would not even exist if not for its successful lobbying for government cronyism and special favors that keep the uneconomical industry afloat. Taxpayers give direct cash subsidies to the solar power industry for 30 percent of the cost of solar power equipment, and most states require consumers to purchase renewable power – including solar power – as part of their electricity mix even though solar power remains five times more expensive than conventional power.
After the debate, the Tampa Tribune reported Perfetti pitched the solar power carve-out “to about 70 members and friends of the Tampa 912 Project, precisely the sort of tea party group that has validated descriptions of supporters as ‘an unusual coalition’ that includes conservatives, libertarians and far-left environmentalists. Well, nobody asked the skeptical Tampa 912ers, and, matched against Heartland Institute senior fellow for environmental and energy policy James Taylor, the best Perfetti could manage was a golf clap.”
The American Spectator affirmed the Tampa Tribune’s verdict:
There was no vote or show of hands at the end of the presentations. No accounting of which presenter swayed more of the congregation. My subjective reaction was that the applause for Taylor was enthusiastic, for Perfetti polite. At the end, Perfetti did not ask for an endorsement of his amendment. And no one offered, though several people told me afterward that they liked the idea. More said they didn’t.
Watch the debate in the video player above. (Troy Perfetti begins, and James Taylor starts at about the 25-minute mark.)