According to a Reuters report on Aug. 14, a Spanish solar tax is leading some citizens to remove their solar panels.
Since the solar energy boom in the 1970s, Spain has been an active advocate of alternative energy. Taking advantage of its abundant sunshine, Spain can produce energy through solar power more efficiently than the other European nations. According to the Environmental News Network, the Spanish government set a national goal in 2008 to achieve solar generating capacity of 10,000 megawatts by 2020.
However, the new tax seems to contradict the government’s history of encouraging installation of solar energy in private properties.
According to Salon.com, the government is €26 billion ($34.73 billion) in debt to its power producers and the new tax is aimed at generating funds from the many people in Spain who produce their own energy with sunlight. In addition to creating taxes for solar panels, new laws also ban the common practice of individuals selling their excess electricity to electrical companies. So that all solar activity can be monitored and taxed, there is also now a fine of up to €30 million ($40 million) for solar users who don’t connect to the grid.
In response to the complaints of the citizens and international critics, Spanish Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria told Australia’s Business Spectator, “I support [independent power generation by households]… but the power system has infrastructure, grids that the rest of us Spaniards who are in the system have to pay for. And we pay for it through our electricity bill.”
In the US, local high school students who hear about the law have expressed disbelief.
“Solar energy can cost more than other energy sources such as coal, but we know that we cannot rely forever on such harmful fuel,” said Victoria Ozuna, a senior at Woodbridge High School, in an interview.
Ozuna continued, “Spain had it right at first by promoting solar energy, which can be implemented by individuals simply on their houses’ roofs… It is deeply saddening to see Spain undo its great accomplishment because of the cost that the nation should have prepared for.”
Though the move is surprising to Ozuna, similar things are happening in the US. The Phoenix Business Journal has reported that a utility company in Arizona is pressuring that state for a law that would charge a “convenience fee” to solar users who sell their excess electricity to the company.