Solar Finds Its Way to Crystal
By Andrew Richter
OK folks, Lord knows I’ve had my differences with the Crystal City Council. Last Tuesday night the council voted 4-3 to install expensive solar panels on the Crystal Community Center.
Now, I’m not going to recap the council debate or citizen input. If you want to watch that you can do it online on your own time and reach your own conclusions. I want to share with you a few important points.
Let me start by saying that I’m not an opponent of solar energy. Though, I largely hate the green agenda I think solar can be a possible solution to some (and I stress some) of our energy use as a nation.
I also believe in market forces. Markets bring change, not government coercion. The private sector invented railroads, cars, planes, and fuel to use them. Henry Ford didn’t get tax credits to build cars and the Wright brothers didn’t get a grant from Hennepin County to try flying. They were entrepreneurs who did things through trial and error.
Green technology though is being forced upon us by government. Whether it is through grant money, the tax code, urban development, Met Council, NGO’s or even with the help of some private sector corporations looking for sweetheart deals, the green agenda is hitting us from all angles. This effort to force us onto public transit, get us to ride our bikes, get us to walk, cram us into high density housing etc. is all part of the same movement. And solar panels are a great example. Without tax credits, grant money, or pressure from other layers of government solar would be nowhere in this country.
We also have to remember that not all green ideas work. Do I have to mention Solyndra or the Chevy Volt?
So that brings me to the June 4 council meeting and their “debate” on solar energy on the top of the community center. The first thing I hate is this “deal” with All Solar Energy. Quite Frankly I understand less of this deal then I did before. My friend Jeff Kolb did a great job of explaining how shady this deal is;
Now did you follow all that? We own them or we don’t…..six year deal or 20 year deal……we tweaked money…..we have to do it NOW!!!!! It’s probably why All Solar Energy presented their “deal” at a work session rather than at a council meeting where they should have had to do it.
Let me also say that I have no clue whether this will be a new financial gain or cost. How can anyone honestly predict 30 or 40 years into the future? But then why do it? What’s wrong with the community center the way it is? Furthermore we hear a lot about essential services. No city, county, or state spend on nickel more than they have to. They don’t waste a paper clip or a roll of butt wipe. So let me ask this; how are solar panels essential? Is that police, fire, sewer, streets etc.? Hell I’m not sure that I agree that a community center is an essential building.
So if solar panels are not an essential thing and we can’t show a financial gain, then why bother? Sadly, I think the reason was ideological. This is an effort to “go green” and “feel good” and save Greenland from melting or Antarctica, or the North Pole, or the Dead Sea….whatever “crisis ” is this week. Councilman Mark Hoffman basically admitted as much. Again, though I ask the question; is “feeling good” why we elect people?
Councilperson Laura Libby made comments about Grant money that “if we don’t take the money some other city will.” Now Laura may be right about that. Greed is a powerful thing. Free money dangling in your face is hard to turn down but I think that’s everything that’s wrong with government. The job of the council isn’t to bring other people’s money to your city, just like the job of a congressman isn’t to bring other people’s tax dollars to their district. This is how government grows out of control and works top-down instead of bottom up. I still have a lot of respect for Laura despite disagreeing with her on this. She’s a Green Party person but she’s been up front and honest about it from day one so I’m not surprised by her vote or the fact that I don’t think she cares whether the city gains or loses money on this. Pushing the Green Agenda is the top priority.
Councilman Casey Peak spoke little but he perhaps made the best comment saying that he couldn’t find a benefit to the city so he was voting no.
I’ll say one good thing for the council; the All Solar Energy Sales guy talked to me in the hallway and told me that “Crystal had more opposition to this project than any other city.” That made me proud; it tells me that the council did their job, asked tough questions, and didn’t just do the “trendy thing” or grab the “free money.” Even though I’d like to have the seen the vote go the other way, I’m happy with the debate I saw and I’d like to see more of it.