State officials should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the private sector, particularly when they use West Virginians’ hard-earned money to do so.
And we certainly ought not to be biting the hand that feeds so many of us in the process.
A few years ago, West Virginia politicians jumped on a national bandwagon and began offering fat tax credits for people who buy cars that run on “alternative fuels.” If you’re in the market for an electric car that can be recharged from the outlet in your garage, you’re in luck: The state will give you a tax credit of as much as $7,500 for buying one.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to end that. Noting subsidies for alternative fuel vehicles cost the state about $10 million a year, he has proposed phasing out the tax credits. Subsidies for electric cars would end immediately; those for vehicles fueled by natural gas, propane and butane would be gone by 2017.
Legislators should approve Tomblin’s proposal – but take other just as logical steps, too.
The electric-car subsidy is not the only social engineering section of state tax code. There are several others intended to steer West Virginians toward politically correct purchases. For example, tax credits of as much as $2,000 are available to people who place solar panels on their roofs. Those who install “alternative-fuel vehicle home refueling infrastructure” can collect as much as $10,000.
But all of that pales in comparison to another mandate that will increase the cost of electricity for virtually every West Virginian, if left in place.
It is the 2009 “Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act,” which requires that power companies doing business in our state obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from “alternative or renewable” sources by 2025.
Combined with federal policy intended to shut down coal-fired power plants, the state law will force utilities to go to higher-priced sources of generation. Everyone who uses electricity will be affected.
West Virginians should not be forced to help our neighbors buy politically correct new cars. We certainly shouldn’t have to pay more than necessary for electricity, while harming the state’s vital coal industry. Tomblin and lawmakers should flip the switch on such initiatives to the “off” position.