Clare Boothe Luce’s witticism, “No good deed goes unpunished,” is apt for describing the added fees and prevented grid hook ups for individual solar systems.
Not only are California and Arizona in the forefront of adding fees, but also, according to an October 20 Wall Street Journal story, cash-strapped Spain plans to impose solar energy fees that may double the length of time it takes for system owners to recover their solar investment.
Europe, especially Spain and Germany, have led the new solar revolution. Both have encouraged solar installations and invented new products. In Germany, it was plantation shutters on which each blade was a solar panel. In Spain, a lacy fretwork on glass let in light and pretty shadows while harvesting the sun for electricity. Italy is producing high-tech batteries with which to store energy. Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom continue to head for solar self-sufficiency. Not so Spain.
The Spanish installing traditional solar-panel systems expected to recoup their investment in eight to 10 years. The new green energy fee expected to take effect January 1 will likely double that. Those connected to the electric grid will be charged a fee, based on the power they produce, that is higher than the wholesale fee utilities pay gas power plants for electricity generated. There is also a fine for those who fail to register their systems or pay the fee.
As with the U.S. utilities, the Euros collected will be partially spent on the electrical grid. Solar advocates decry the slap-in-the-face the solar industry will experience as higher costs and fees reduce the number of systems they install despite falling panel prices. Critics also say the government is protecting the five big electric utilities, the big guys, from the new technologies from the little guys. The article quoted José Donoso, director general of Spain's largest solar-industry trade association, "It's like buying a more-efficient refrigerator that uses less electricity and having to pay a charge for what you're no longer buying from the electrical system."