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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007 | After such a great story by Vladimir Kogan on interpreting education statistics, it was disappointing to see the economic ignorance in “Solar Panels Continue to Go Up Despite No Drop in Prices.” The answer is very simple, requiring only high school economics: as long as there is a state subsidy for solar panels, the prices will stay high. Once the subsidy ends, then dealers will be forced to compete for business; if not, their business will dry up until real prices come down.

You never saw a Prius ad until the end of the federal subsidy (hybrid tax credit) and state subsidy (carpool cheating sticker). Now you can’t avoid them.

The article was correct in that the state’s 10-year plan will encourage long-term investment in solar manufacturing and distribution. But the real answer will come when solar cells are mass produced in the same way (and quantities) as LCD screens, which is still 5-10 years off.

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