Solar subsidy opponent takes the subsidy

Robert Bryce, a free marketer with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative “think tank” funded by oil interests, has dished out some red meat for the anti-solar crowd today by acknowledging that he’s installed solar panels on his home in Austin, Texas.

In an op-ed in the Wall St. Journal, Bryce acknowledges he’s now a freeloader on the electric grid, leaving other people to pay for its upkeep.

“I’m opposed to all energy subsidies — unless, of course, I’m the one collecting them,” he writes.

It’s a novel way to use one’s own hypocrisy to make a point.

Do I feel bad about being a solar freeloader? Yes, a little. As Mr. Brown and others have noted, I’m now paying less to maintain the electric grid. That means that the local barista or school janitor—people who likely can’t afford solar panels—are paying incrementally more for the grid’s maintenance and operation. And the more that people like me install panels, the more those baristas and janitors have to pay.

But don’t trouble me with all that. I’m doing my part for the polar bears. Indeed, I’m a prime example of the “green” economy: I’m socializing the costs of my scheme and privatizing the profits. And I’m feeling virtuous while doing so.

Bryce said he snared three subsidies for the installation, the net cost of which was $18,000.