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Gore Vidal Sounds Off on Solar Power Caper
Posted on Jul 6, 2007
Simkin: But at the same time, when they’re looking over the solar, if a citizen is buying solar, they’re taking their business away from the department. The department’s losing money. Why would the department want to help someone take their business elsewhere? ...
Vidal: We went through all the stages that you’re supposed to go through. They had been informed. And we opened the place for them in April to come and fulfill one of their extraordinary rules, and they never came, nor did they say they weren’t coming. They just wasted our time, and then they made a second date, I think, and that was that. By then, we were up and going.
Anderson: So, essentially, “you’re never able to be fully off the grid” is the moral of this story.
Vidal: That is what they want; that is what they’ve achieved. I want to turn it around. ... I mean, just ticking them off is not going to do it! We’ve got to prove the force majeure and that is the sun!
Anderson: If you have a boat and you want to run a solar panel on it, I gather that no inspection is required.
Vidal: Yes, and a boat can blow up in a harbor and take the harbor with it, too.
Anderson: Is there any reason why [the department’s] incentive program [for installing solar power] could be of any use to you as a household? I mean, would they cover for you if a tree fell on your solar panel?
Vidal: Oh, I’m sure they would not. They would drop a match after that.
Simkin: The incentive is sizable at this point. It’s getting smaller.
Vidal: It was big.
Anderson: I believe I read that 40 percent is about the standard incentive.
Vidal: I think that something may be made out of it that I’m the only non-greedy person in this place—in this community—who is not trying to grab something for nothing: “Boy, I really took them!” I’m just counter their culture, and I loathe their culture.
Anderson: And it would seem like, at times like this, in the summer, when there is a huge strain put on the system for air conditioning and so forth, that it would be useful for some of the households to not be adding to that strain.
Vidal: Well, as I said, I thought this was a gift from me to the community, by removing myself from the grid.
Simkin: Related to that, I mean, if there was a shortage of oil, oil companies wouldn’t be excited about electric car companies rising up—they’d raise the price of oil. This is how they exert control.
Anderson: And on top of the incentive for the installation, is there some tax write-off?
Vidal: There’s something vague, I remember.
Simkin: It seems like the only motivations that the department has [for promoting solar] are the governor’s declared intentions to get so many people on solar by 2010-2011. There’s that ... and goodwill to protect the environment, which runs counter to the rules of capitalism.
Anderson: The bottom line seems to be that the whole idea of harnessing the sun comes with red tape.
Simkin: If all goes well, the [re-]inspection process is supposed to take two weeks. The original papers were put in April 20th.
Vidal: They won’t come. And then they’ll stop coming altogether ... every time they don’t come, they say they’re delaying, you know?
Simkin: And we’re not supposed to use the solar until it’s been inspected.
Vidal: By what rule? We can take that one to court! People have been using solar ever since the first person figured out how to work it to heat the pool! Everyone’s been heating their pool [using solar] forever, and nobody’s come by to inspect it. ...
Anderson: At this point, you’re fully back on the grid.
Vidal: Yep, to their delight. They don’t want anything to change now.
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