In describing how government policies can have strange effects, economic textbooks often refer to the window tax that applied in Britain in France in the 18th and 19th centuries. This tax resulted in a number of households bricking up windows so they could reduce their window tax bills.
I expect the solar feed-in tariff will eventually join the window tax as an example of policies with strange effects in economic textbooks, at least in Australian textbooks. This occurred to me this morning when I read this Gold Coast Bulletin story (Solar panel feud flares):
IT’S the residential “solar farm” fracturing friendships in a quiet Gold Coast street – and the council can’t stop one popping up in your suburb.
Despite having 23 solar panels on his roof, Hope Island retiree Graham Drew has caused a furore by erecting a frame along his property to hold a 40 more panels.
At least five neighbouring households have repeatedly raised safety and aesthetic concerns with the council, including Mayor Tom Tate, but it says it is powerless to act as the structure was approved by an independent certifier and the city’s planning scheme does not regulate the installation of solar panels.
Property owner Kate Lockyer, whose home overlooks the panels, said the “eyesore” would have an enormous impact on the resale value of her house.
It’s worth clicking through to the article linked to above just to see the huge array of panels, which I think the property owner’s neighbour has rightly described as a “solar monstrosity”.