More Government-Sponsored Solar Insanity

Illustrating the absurdity of our government’s fixation on solar energy, the Department of Energy’s “Solar Decathlon” kicked off Friday in Washington D.C… in the rain.

Perfect.  No sun.  No solar.  But the show went on as if nothing was wrong.

In a press release announcing the competition, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is quoted as saying, “The Solar Decathlon collegiate teams are showing how clean energy products and efficient building design can help families and businesses reduce energy use and save money…The event challenges talented students to become pioneers of clean energy technology and helps ensure that out nation remains competitive in the workforce of tomorrow.”

The event also challenged fiscal sanity.

Each of the teams received a $100,000 Department of Energy grant to participate in the Solar Decathlon.  The DOE also picked up the tab for hosting and producing the competition.  Other team expenses were offset by corporate sponsors.  The teams used the easy-money to construct tiny, 650-square foot homes, completely powered by solar arrays stretched across the roofs.   The solar systems were capable of producing 8 to 10 kilowatts of electricity, during the middle of day, when the sun is shining.

The City College of New York’s team proudly showed off their house to Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard.

Teisha Villegas, an architecture student at CCNY, was asked how much her team’s house cost. Villegas conceded the price tag came to about $450,000, “which is just parts” since CCNY students provided all the labor.  Another student from the same team, Yinery Baez, said that $500,000 is a more accurate figure, but  they believe the price could be dropped to about $300,000 if it were ever to be mass produced.

$500K for a home fit for a Hobbit.  And if the sun’s not shining you’re in the dark.


Brian Sussman

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