Rush Limbaugh Doubles Down On The Dumb About Solar

Wow. Just wow. Just when you thought Rush Limbaugh couldn’t possibly be any stupider (as most of you know, his vile, disgusting and misogynistic comments on Sandra Fluke have worked out so well for him),  he decided to double down on the dumb.

On his March 5 program, Limbaugh said the following about the wind and solar energy markets (emphasis added):

The problem with the Chevy Volt [the reason Limbaugh started his alternative energy rant in the first place] is just like all of Obama’s green energy, there’s no business there yet. There’s no solar energy business yet. There’s no wind energy yet. It’s not there yet. But we can’t have more oil. We can’t have cheaper gasoline prices.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the actual clip of the remarks for your listening pleasure (it’s only 16 seconds, but you’ll be gobsmacked at the amount of stupid packed into such a short time):

Now those of us who have listened to Rush practically at the beginning know that he has made his living being mendacious, angry and crude, but the fictional Snerdley should have warned him how ridiculous the above statement was.

Let’s start with our personal passion, the solar energy industry.

1. There’s no solar energy business yet.

Really, Rush? Really? Did Snerdley not alert you to this study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media? Or this announcement by Rhone Resch? Or this report from The Solar Foundation, which reports that there were more than 100,000 jobs in the American solar industry as of August 2011? Is that enough evidence for you that not only does the solar industry exist, but that it’s one of the few bright spots in an otherwise painfully slow recovery?

How about these facts from our friends at SEIA:

  • The U.S. solar market grew to a $6 billion industry in 2010, up 67% from $3.6 billion in 2009.
  • Solar electric capacity installations reached 956 MW in 2010, more than double the installations from 2009.
  • At year end 2010, the U.S. had 2,593 megawatts (MW) of installed solar electric capacity. This included about 2,086 MW of photovoltaics (PV) and 507 MW of utility-scale concentrating solar power.
  • Solar water heating capacity grew 5% in 2010, as 2.4 million square feet of solar water heating capacity was installed at homes and businesses throughout the country.

I don’t know about you, but that sure as heck sounds like an industry (and a thriving one at that) to me. Rush, you should have done some homework so you didn’t sound like quite such an idiot.

2. There’s no wind energy yet.

My colleagues over at Windpower Engineering and Development could probably speak to this more effectively than I can, but here are some of the stats on Limbaugh’s “non-industry,” courtesy of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

  • The fourth quarter of 2011 saw 3,444 MW of wind power capacity installed, bringing total installations in 2011 to 6,810 MW.
  • The U.S. wind industry now totals 46,919 MW of cumulative wind capacity through the end of 2011.
  • There are over 8,300 MW currently under construction involving over 100 separate projects spanning 31 states plus Puerto Rico.
  • The U.S. wind industry has added over 35% of all new generating capacity over the past 4 years, second only to natural gas, and more than nuclear and coal combined.
  • Today, U.S. wind power capacity represents more than 20% of the world’s installed wind power.
  • The U.S. wind industry represents not only a large market for wind power capacity installations, but also a growing market for American manufacturing.
  • More than 400 manufacturing facilities across the United States. make components for wind turbines, and dedicated wind facilities that manufacture major components such as towers, blades and assembled nacelles can be found in every region.

Add to that the nearly 75,000 jobs currently in the wind industry, and you can see that Rush yet again proves to the world that he won’t let facts get in the way of a good lie.

3. But we can’t have more oil. We can’t have cheaper gasoline prices.

This is a common complaint amongst conservatives: If we just opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the U.S. coastline (which Obama has, in fact, done) or processed shale oil, we could rid ourselves of the scourge of being dependent of foreign nations for our energy supplies.

This, of course, is a straw man and ignores the central fact of oil production (and, by extension, gas prices). When the United States or any other country extracts oil and puts in on the market, it doesn’t stay in the country of origin. So no matter how much oil the United States produces (unless we happened to be sitting on oil reserves like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela — the evidence suggests we are not), it wouldn’t lower the price of gas one bit.

Our oil would be swept up into the international oil market, where the prices are still controlled (in large part) by OPEC and speculators on the commodities markets. Extracting more oil wouldn’t bring down gas prices, no matter how much Limbaugh and his friends want it to — and there would be significant environmental dangers instead (as we found out to our own detriment two years ago).

So what have we learned from this, apart from the fact that Senator Al Franken may have been right? We’ve learned that we need to be ever-vigilant as the solar industry, and when people lie about us, we need to fight back — and fight back hard.

I would request that all of you take a minute of your time to email Rush (his email address is the ever-so-modest or post a comment on his Facebook page, letting him know (rationally and politely, please) that the solar industry not only exists, but is alive and well in this country — and we won’t take his lies lying down.







  • John

    Wow so many uniformed Rushbots on here.

  • Natasha Townsend

    Since we are on the topic of corporate welfare, let’s see what industries have flourished when it was given subsidy. Hum…gas, coal, power and most recently, the banks, the car manufacturers, the state of Ca. and, oh yeah, the city of Detroit, Mi., to name a few. Every other industry has its hand in the taxpayer’s pocket without our choice or option and where have Joe and Jane Taxpayer benefitted? Believe it or not, America is a welfare state. At least with alternative energy, we can presently decide if we would like to participate in the options of cleaner energy or gas-house emissions.

  • Dantes

    Even the spendthrift democrat controlled senate shot down wind energy because it is a total bust!

    So who’s the dummy here?

    Senate on Tuesday voted not to extend a federal tax break for wind

    energy production beyond the end of the year.

    CASPER, Wyo. — An attempt to extend a federal tax break for wind
    energy production beyond the end of the year in Wyoming and elsewhere
    failed in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

    Neither of Wyoming’s senators — both Republicans — voted for the
    amendment, which helps offset the cost of electricity production
    during a wind farm’s first 10 years.

    Spokespeople for both Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. Mike Enzi emphasize
    the cost of the tax credit to the national debt and the tax break’s
    support for what Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp called
    “projects of questionable value.”

  • Desmond D’Nu

    This article approaches weapons grade stupidity. Thanks for the laughs. Everybody please just email the solar industry and ask them rationally and politely to stop stealing the taxpayers blind.

  • Exergy

    Why don’t all of you nay-saying, unintelligent, uneducated trolls crawl back under the rocks from whence you came. Oil and gas is and has been subsidized! Solar and wind are industries with a bright future. These industries struggle to out perform oil and gas due to the lack of subsidies, tax breaks, and money invested in R&D.

  • Guess Who

    Frank, It would appear to me that you really do not listen to Rush’s Radio Show and that you are reacting to the sound bites played by the liberal media. Your comments here in this article show just how much you fall into the same band wagon you have accused Rush of doing with his radio show. Granted he is not a technical person, and anyone who has worked with the government contracting knows that there is a lot of Vaporware when it comes to the government studies. They can be made to prove either side of argument. Maybe you should look a little closer that the Solar Cell efficiency and cost of the cells per kilowatt verses nuclear, gas, and oil when it comes to energy. That’s where Rush was basing his remarks when he commented on the Solar and Wind power.

  • ShonAn

    Frank, you’ve gone in the ditch on this one. Please don’t follow the lead of the mainstream news networks in making every cause a partisan issue. I’m no Rush fan and agree his grasp of what’s going on with renewables is somewhat shaky but, if you’re going to take pot shots and assess his other comments (the Fluke issue), you turn this into a political site rather than a Solar Power site.

    The last thing we as the solar industry need is being strictly tied to a political agenda or party. We need to make this an issue about how we power the country, recognize that we are a piece of that puzzle, and work to make sure our piece fits smoothly and effectively into the whole. We can’t blindly support our best interests or we’re no better than the numerous other entities out there pushing their agenda to the detriment of our country.

    Let’s avoid the political mud-slinging and work on the positive.



  • Robrett44

    I noticed your article used the word “capacity” describing the future of wind power. However, Capacity and Production are NOT the same thing. You may have lots of capacity for wind power but with no wind, no power. You may have the capacity for solar power but, no sun, no power. Without the tax dollars, there wouldn’t be a solar or wind power program in the first place because it is not economically feasible. Using the wind to power transportation was great for Chris Columbus but we are a little more advanced these days.

  • Dantes

    Solar and Wind are a joke. The only reason they have the market share they do is because of massive government subsidies and decrees. Which have the beneficial side effect of enriching the crony capitalists who cash in on taxpayer subsidized boondoggles.

  • Michel Ouellette

    Are you for real? I am investing in power from Unicorn farts and rainbows. Solar has been a pipe dream for 40+ years. Next time you are on an aircraft – ask if it is powered vy solar or wind you idiot. Without massive subsidies, they immediately go out of business as they cannot survive on their own.

  • Disgusted1101

    If green energy is such a viable business, why does it have to be subsized wiht MY money to stay in business. As far as pollution electric vehicles (Prius) causes more harm to the enviornment than a Humvee over it’s lifetime. Its even amazing that the oil companies don’t go out of business for all the taxes that we have to pay on a gallon of gas. If you could put a tax on solar, wind, or bio they wouldn’t be able to survive even though they are being subsidised wiht MY money. Our government should not be in the business of taking MY money to prop up a company that cannot stand on its own.

  • VT_Engineer

    Great article Frank. It helps to have recent statistics when speaking with people about the status of renewable energy. I do hear people wonder about how important solar and wind are to the overall energy picture. Solar and wind are important and of course growing very fast. Solar is really taking off. Here in Vermont it seems that solar PV on rooftops and trackers are appearing in new locations frequently. The best we can do is keep getting the facts out there. Steve Martin’s famous quote is that you have to be so good they just can’t ignore you. I guess that is how it will be. At some point it will be impossible to ignore the value and ubiquity of renewable energy and green technology.

  • RobRoySimmons

    You didn’t need to throw in the stupid fanatical Daily Kos type comment into this article, Bill Maher has made a living being a pig towards women yet that cretin is celebrated because he votes D. You need to shape up and live up to your standards or just shut up.

  • jpv446

    Wind farms are the energy of the future, like maybe 400 years from now, when we actually do start running out of fossil fuel. In the meantime, wind farms are not ready for prime time.

  • Citizenclinton

    Can either the wind or solar industries stand on their own without government financial and regulatory assistance?

    If not, these are not industries, they are jobs programs and money laundering operations for big money political donors.

    Hey Frank, is Obama going to hand you a few hundred million from the public till?

  • immykal

    you must be kidding….ask Spain how well Solar Energy worked out for them, ask the many dead Europeans that froze to death this winter because wind generation couldn’t deliver sufficient power to keep them warm, or it was so expensive they couldn’t pay to heat their fricken’ houses….here in my own state, wind has proven to be a total bust – to expensive to maintain and operate so they shut it down…I think you need to revisit who the dumb one is here….

  • windpowerblows

    green = cold, dark and broke

  • Joe ThePimpernel

    Rush merely asked the question “What do you call a woman who expects other people to pay for her sex supplies?” And, as it turns out, Sandra Fluke (pronounced “Fluck”) is not a poor little “coed.” She is already a lawyer, she enrolled at Georgetown specifically to challenge their contraceptive policy, and she has worked closely with the Ubama administration. In other words, she is a political operative. Plus, she can get her contraceptive pills at Walmart or Target for $9 a month, which does not translate into $3000 over three years of law school.

    The only people who benefit from wind energy are the turbine manufacturers, the construction companies and union members who build the windmills, and the investors who collect the federal energy subsidies. Taxpayers and energy consumers just get higher taxes, higher energy bills, and sanctimonious lectures on why their very existence is a burden to the earth and all of mankind.

    Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).*

  • Wiscoman613
  • BurnMyOwnGarbage

    I wanted to put solar and wind on my new farm, but I have two motivators:
    1. save money.
    2. Be self sufficient when the economy melts down.

    Number one has made it a non-starter. It is absurdly expensive, even if I get my materials from one of the plethora of solar firms going out of business. It leaves me with number 2, which just may be enough of a motivator to do it anyway.

  • BurnMyOwnGarbage

    Almost as good as the Onion. Thanks for the great coffee break laugh!

  • 123

    I thought this was a forum to discuss Solar energy. It appear now to be a place to bash people who think differently than you.

    Instead of personal assaults, why don’t you use your expertise to demonstrate any flaws in Rush Limbaugh’s thinking.

    If the market & technology are not ready, then no amount of Government shoving will make it succeed.

  • No

    So if we add more oil to the world market (regardless of who actually is the end user) the price will not go down? Say what you like about Rush, but you may want to do a review of your Econ 101 – supply and demand before you go of on such a ridiculous rant.

  • Sweetkate12

    I think the author is confused about who is dumb.

    • BurnMyOwnGarbage

      I assume sarcasm. It is almost as good as The Onion.

      • moonbeam

        …pretty easy to say “dumb” and criticize in an anonymous forum…

        • Freedom567

          Especially when they ARE dumb.

  • Serre

    Frank. You are not smarter than Rush.
    Can you give amount of energy produced solar and wind compare to all other sources?
    what it will be 0.01% or little bit more?
    You call it business?