Duke Energy’s ‘Clean Coal’ Power Plant Off to Bad Start

Duke EdwardsportDuke Energy’s “green” initiative to gasify coal for allegedly “cleaner” burning at its Edwardsport, Ind. power plant has already been vilified for cronyism, corruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became operational in June.

For six days.

The so-called “clean coal” project that was intended to have a carbon dioxide capture-and-storage component suffered breakdowns that left it inoperative on June 13, almost a week after Duke’s formal announcement that Edwardsport was on line, and only a day after the nation’s largest utility showed media members around the plant. The Indianapolis Star broke the news on Friday.

Eyebrows furrowed and heads shook not simply over the unexpected early stoppage, but given the questionable behavior surrounding the plant by previous CEO James Rogers and other Duke executives, the timing of the announcement followed by the quick shutdown only raised more … Read More ➡

Fisker’s Venture Capital Firm Still Hasn’t Learned Cronyism Doesn’t Pay

John Doerr photoThe sniping and backbiting behind the financial scenes are escalating as those involved with Fisker Automotive and other green tech flops seek to direct blame for their investment failures. U.S. taxpayers, as usual, have suffered bystander casualties.

The latest controversy surrounds Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, which has suffered a series of setbacks over its strategy to place sizable wagers on so-called “clean energy” companies. Their tech bettors hit on several huge successes during the 1990s dot-com boom, which history shows was a huge bubble with a nasty burst. The same thing happened with the government-fueled housing expansion and now the renewable energy sector is ballooning for the same reason.

The conflicts with Kleiner Perkins are mostly about disagreements over who said what to whom and when – soap opera stuff. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, recipient of a $465 million stimulus loan guarantee from … Read More ➡

Taxpayer Millions Squandered on EV Charging Study Project

Volt recharging photoAn audit by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General found that the persistent weak demand for electric vehicles harmed the deployment and timeliness of a $135 million-plus taxpayer funded charging network, which spun a cycle of excessive grants and project expansion, that led to an enormous waste of public money.

The investigators, led by IG Gregory Friedman, determined that conditions for reimbursement to Ecotality, Inc. (and its subsidiaries) for the EV charging demonstration project were “very generous,” although not explicitly prohibited under federal regulations.

“While we acknowledge that the Department had maintained and archived award documentation, an independent reviewer cannot understand the rationale behind important decisions made by Department officials, as required by government internal control standards,” Friedman’s report said. “Additionally, the Department’s weaknesses in oversight of administrative aspects of Ecotality’s awards may have led to funding items that were not directly attributable to the grant.”

The IG noted … Read More ➡

‘Demand’ for Nissan Leaf is All Hype and Subsidies

Nissan Leaf photoReports have trickled out lately that, all of a sudden, demand is so great for the all-electric Leaf that Nissan’s production just can’t keep up.

“We’re going to be short on inventory all through the summer,” said Erik Gottfried, director of electric vehicle sales for Nissan, to Automotive News. “It will be late fall before we can produce enough to satisfy everybody.”

Then the appropriate question from taxpayers should be, “What did we pay $1.4 billion for you to do in Smyrna, Tennessee then?!?”

That’s how much stimulus-backed money went to the Japan-based automaker to design a factory outside Nashville to crank out up to 150,000 Leafs and 200,000 Leaf batteries per year. The plant began production late in 2012, and according to the Department of Energy, was to create 1,300 permanent “green” jobs, remove 11,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road annually, and lead to 51,000 … Read More ➡

Obama Brings Little Hope to Africa With Clean Energy Agenda

Obama GhanaPresident Obama’s trip to Africa revealed how despicable his “green” agenda, couched in the excuse of “climate change,” truly is.

It’s one thing to hamstring the U.S. economy – one of the strongest and resilient in the world – with the ridiculous, self-inflicted insistence that we not use all the energy resources at our disposal, all to save us from the phantom crisis of global warming. While temperatures haven’t risen for 15 years and there’s actually been cooling since 2002, the president and his alarmist minions have designed failed scheme after failed scheme in the name of solving a problem that doesn’t exist.

But now Obama is bringing his “green” folly to the Third World. During his Africa travels he shared widely his naïve outlook, and his ignorant analysis of energy’s crucial function within it, to people groups who could greatly improve their condition with cheap … Read More ➡

Shallow Analysis Deems DOE Electric Vehicle Loans a Success

A popular automotive Web site’s attempt to set the record straight on the degree of success and failure of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program was well-intentioned, but missed the mark on several points and overall gave the initiative far too much credit.

Jalopnik.com contributor Patrick George was pointed in the right direction when he characterized DOE’s boastful Loan Program Office as “rosy,” but more accurate descriptors would be “excessive” and “unrealistic.” It’s clear his analysis was one of an automotive enthusiast and reviewer, rather than someone who regularly watchdogs government with a skeptic’s eye and knows how bureaucrats fudge and exaggerate numbers to claim credit for their politician bosses. As NLPC has reported often, DOE – before a taxpayer-backed bank check was ever issued to an electric automaker – has made absolutely unbelievable claims about jobs, fuel savings and carbon dioxide emission reductions that were … Read More ➡

Bottomless Subsidies Needed to Keep DOE Electric Truck Project Alive

Frito Lay Electric TruckDespite little news over the past nine months since its last-minute abandonment of an initial public offering that was supposed to raise $76 million in cash, stimulus recipient Smith Electric Vehicles is showing little evidence it can inspire demand for its commercial trucks, like its plug-in car counterparts.

Smith’s selling point for its step vans was that, unlike electric automobiles, delivery routes in urban areas did not require a long range between refueling (or, recharging). Frequent stops and short distances alleviated the “range anxiety” that accompanies cars like the Nissan Leaf. Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola and Staples were cited as early adopters of the truck demonstration project, which was launched with the help of $32 million in taxpayer funds.

Alas, it’s not helping. Once holding the lofty expectations of the IPO last September, the company is now quietly noting it raised $8.6 million in “bridge” funding. CEO Bryan Hansel said that the … Read More ➡

Fuel Regulations Throw Md., Va. Carnival Cruise Jobs Overboard

Carnival Cruise LinerThe Environmental Protection Agency acts as if every new burdensome demand makes a huge difference for the health and wellbeing of humans, in addition to claims that its costly, excessive regulations upon private business are actual net job creators.

The data and facts easily debunk the agency’s junk science and alien economics, but unfortunately reality has failed to penetrate the Twilight Zone-ish bubble where EPA resides. So color the Beltway enviro-crats shocked every time a private sector industry decides it won’t play ball any more and cuts jobs and moves productivity elsewhere.

The latest corporate example of “I’ve had enough” is Carnival Cruise Lines (Flickr photo courtesy Lisa Andres), which announced last week it would end service from the harbors of Baltimore and Norfolk, Va., due to government requirements that its ships burn low-sulfur fuel within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. coast (with even stricter standards coming … Read More ➡

Party Time for Corporations Who Love the Regulatory Favoritism Game

Obama InvescoPresident Obama’s speech last week that re-emphasized his commitment to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions brought dismay to those who appreciate affordable energy, but it sparked a celebration among corporate types who have long sought caps and taxes on CO2.

While it was still more words from the president, which don’t always match his actions, on CO2 limitation he has largely kept his promise to environmentalists. Critics slammed his plan to bypass Congress and to task the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions via executive order, but EPA has operated out of bounds since he was inaugurated in 2009 – especially with the “war against coal” that is now universally accepted as true.

“What has us most encouraged by the president’s speech is he is lacing up his gloves and getting ready for that fight,” said Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, in an interview … Read More ➡

Obama’s Words on Carbon Dioxide, Drilling Contradict His Actions

enhanced oil recoveryIn his much-hyped speech Tuesday, President Obama promised executive action – including greater regulations on the coal industry and approval of the Keystone Pipeline only if its “net effect on our climate” is not significant – to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide that he alleges is the cause of global warming. He also called for the elimination of tax breaks for “big oil.”

“We can’t drill our way out of the energy and climate challenges that we face,” he said at Georgetown University.

If he really believes that, then why has his administration authorized billions of dollars in new projects to capture carbon dioxide (photo courtesy American Oil and Gas Reporter) and use it for “enhanced oil recovery?”

Take, for instance, the stimulus-funded “W. A. Parish Post Combustion CO2 Capture and Sequestration” project in Texas, in which the Department of Energy awarded $163 million to NRG Energy (and has … Read More ➡

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