Public schools in England and Wales with rooftop solar systems are facing an 800% increase in taxes beginning next month. Schools in Scotland are unaffected by the new tax levy as are British private schools. To avoid confusion, public schools in the UK are the same as private schools in America and private schools are the same as public schools. It’s odd but Brits drive on the wrong side of the road, so it all makes sense, sort of.
The government is telling the schools not to worry about the new tax because the money will benefit them in some as yet unspecified way. History teaches us that once tax money gets into government hands, it rarely comes back to benefit those paying the tax.
According to The Guardian, the average rooftop solar tax increase will amount to around $900 per year per school. With up to 174 different school authorities affected, a total of $2.2 million in extra revenue is slated to flow into British tax collectors’ coffers as a result of the new tax policy.
With typical British understatement, Leonie Greene of the Solar Trade Association says, “This is slightly less than helpful for the British solar industry. It’s absurd. Energy tax policy is going in the opposite direction to how we know energy needs to change and how it’s changing. What he is doing is advantaging old technology and disadvantaging new ones. It’s nonsensical.”
Children at the Eleanor Palmer school in London have taken matters into their own hands. Working with Greenpeace, they have collected 200,000 signatures from people who want the government to “urgently rethink” the rooftop solar tax hikes. The petition bearing the signatures was delivered to England’s Treasury Department on Thursday.
England has turned its back on solar recently by slashing incentives both to industry and private individuals. As a result, 12,000 workers in the solar industry were laid off last year and installations slowed by 85%. Perhaps America can now expect a similar slashing of clean energy initiatives from an EPA administrator who testified to Congress that people need have no fear from breathing carbon dioxide.
The fossil fuel industries on both sides of the Atlantic and in Australia have bought and paid for enough representatives at all levels of government to insure that the world will continue burning fossil fuels in perpetuity. Our governments are now firmly committed to protecting business profits rather than the best interests of those they were elected to represent. Perhaps we will soon go back to heating our homes with good old fashioned coal. It was good enough for our great grandparents, it should be good enough for us, right?