By Tori Richards
Published June 16, 2015 - watchdog.org
New Hampshire utility ratepayers will pay a Taiwanese company $1.22 million to build the state’s largest solar installation so that a small town can save about $500,000 in power costs over the life of the project.
Taiwan’s Walsin Lihwa, parent company of Borrego Solar, will use Chinese-made solar panels in the 3.5-acre project, which is supposed to be finished in July. It will supply power to several municipal buildings in the area but only some of the time: the town of Peterborough (population: 6,284) gets only 197 sunny days per year.
“What a great project,” deadpanned David Kreutzer, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation. “A $1.2 million grant allows Peterborough to save $500,000! And that doesn’t include the cross-subsidies of net metering.” Net metering requires all other ratepayers to cover the fixed costs of electricity distribution so that solar users have a safety net when the sun doesn’t shine.
In an unusual feature of the deal, Borrego Solar will retain ownership of the system. That allows the company to claim a 30 percent federal tax credit — along with $55,000 in yearly renewable energy credits paid for by local ratepayers.
As for the rest of year, Peterborough will have to buy electricity from conventional sources.