Federal, state subsidies for solar project provided by U.S. taxpayers

To the editor:

This is regarding the comments made by Randall D. Lewis in his letter to the editor published in the Aug. 2 edition of the Call.

I am encouraged that someone of the progressive persuasion is not afraid to mention that the Mehlville School District’s solar project is made possible primarily through federal and state subsidies. I only hope that Mr. Lewis knows where these subsidies originate.

Once more, I hope that Mr. Lewis also understands that federal and state subsidies do not materialize out of thin air, rather they are provided by American taxpayers and, therefore, costs are indeed associated with the design, development and installation of Mehlville’s solar project.

Unlike Superintendent Eric Knost, who insists there is no cost to the school district while proclaiming a significant return on investment, Mr. Lewis seems to have a grip, although precarious.

Once again, one cannot discuss return-on-investment without including “the cost.” At least Mr. Lewis points to an actual return; Mehlville students will have an opportunity to learn statistics, electricity, earth science, energy efficiency or, as I view it, cost efficiency.

In addition to these, I would challenge Mehlville students to investigate the cost:

• How many taxpayer dollars did the manufacturer receive for building the solar equipment in the first place?

• How many of these same dollars will eventually go to installation and future maintenance?

Only after examining what it costs to make and install this type of equipment — again, paid for by taxpayers — is it possible to make a sound financial argument that makes sense for those paying for it.

One part of Mr. Lewis’ argument I disagree with, however, is that progressive thinking doesn’t mean that you should throw a whole bunch of other people’s money at a complex issue and then try to tell them there will be a significant financial return. That’s just wrong.

In an earlier telephone conversation I had with Mr. Knost, he himself speculated that the subsidies would eventually run out.

He’s right. Who then pays for the annual maintenance over the prescribed 20 years for a system that does little to reduce cost and one that requires a lengthy payback period?

Perhaps this can be rectified by a tax increase for Mehlville residents in the coming years.