Chinese Have Big Plans for Fisker, Which Took US Taxpayers for a Ride

Lu GuanqiuMonths have passed since the saga about the fate of Fisker Automotive ended, which was the stimulus-funded electric vehicle flop that always seemed on the verge of bankruptcy but had a long existence as part of the walking dead.

The inevitable finally happened in November, after Fisker’s executives spent many desperate months traveling the world trying to find a buyer for the struggling company. Apparently blunders and stumbles that included fires, recalls and bad reviews for the only model Fisker ever produced – the Karma – made the business untouchable for outside investors.

It all contributed to an unrelenting run of bad publicity connected to the Department of Energy’s toxic loan program, which provided taxpayer-backed funding for several duds, including now-famous Solyndra. Fisker’s collapse cost the U.S. public $139 million, which is inexcusable considering that founder Henrik Fisker and his colleagues burned through at least $1.4 billion and barely … Read More ➡

NC Weekly Protests Resume as NAACP Leader’s Activities Expand Elsewhere

Moral MondayFollowing last week’s attention-getting demonstration at McDonald’s Corp.’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Ill., Rev. William Barber returned Tuesday to his weekly routine of leading stomps and rants at the North Carolina General Assembly.

The supersized president of the NC chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People relaunched his so-called “Moral Mondays” on May 19, which coincided with the return of legislators to the state capital for a few weeks. Sizes of the crowds he is able to bring to Raleigh vary, but with the aid of the local spectacle-loving media, Barber can always count on overestimates of head counts and exaggerations of his effectiveness.

He started these harangues last year when Republicans assumed full control of the governorship, state House and state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. The protests started with minimal participation, but thanks to (unjustified) journalistic attention, they grew because … Read More ➡

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Coughed, Wheezed in Feb.

Duke EdwardsportAfter the global warming-battling Edwardsport coal gasification power plant used more power than it generated during the September-to-November timeframe, earlier this month information filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission showed the Duke Energy facility operated at less than 1 percent of capacity in February.

As Duke wants to recover $1.5 million in costs related to the plant, the state office that advocates for its customers – the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor – wants IURC to more closely scrutinize why Edwardsport’s operation has been such a miserable failure. The much-delayed and fought-over plant had a $1.4 billion cost overrun and as a result is adding an average 16 percent increase to Hoosier State customers’ electric bills.

“The ratepayers of Duke Energy should not be mandated to bear the risks and most of the costs of this boondoggle,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition, to … Read More ➡

Energy Dept. Revives Stimulus Loans as Another Electric Vehicle Co. Stalls

Frito Lay Electric TruckAs Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.

Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”

While not a beneficiary of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program that Moniz wants to revive, Smith Electric is another reason why subsidies of any type for this floundering pseudo-industry – loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. – are enormous wastes. In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars that other companies like Fisker Automotive, Ecotality and A123 Systems received, Smith’s $32 million in grants is comparatively … Read More ➡

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Uses More Energy Than It Produces

Duke EdwardsportNLPC has detailed extensively the wastefulness and folly of spending billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars to subsidize wind energy, solar energy and electric vehicles, all in the name of fighting climate change.

But the complicated, uneconomical boondoggle that Duke Energy built in Edwardsport, Ind. so as to burn coal gas rather than coal – and thus produce less carbon dioxide than a traditional coal plant – may be the dumbest idea to fight imaginary global warming to date. If you swallow the alarmists’ premise and “solutions,” the plant so far is a joke, as recent evidence shows it is using more energy than it produces.

Edwardsport was supposed to cost $1.9 billion but that estimate was about $1.6 billion short. The project has hacked and wheezed since 2006 under evidence of cronyism, corruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became … Read More ➡

Range Loss of EVs In Extreme Temps Has Been Reported for Years

Nissan Leaf photoLast week AAA released findings from tests it had run on three models of electric automobiles, and announced that the heavily subsidized vehicles suffer dramatic driving range loss in both cold and hot temperatures.

The news wasn’t new, but apparently the broader media noticed because the pronouncement from the nation’s largest consumer automotive club made it official. NLPC (beginning with a Consumer Reports experience) has reported from time to time on such problems since late 2011. The Tulsa World reported that AAA found driving distance for electric vehicles can be diminished up to 57 percent in extremely cold temperatures, and by one-third in very hot temperatures.

The models tested were the Ford Focus EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the much-hyped Nissan Leaf. AAA said it rated “normal” range as 105 miles on a single charge, but that’s not even realistic for at least one Oklahoma owner.

“My … Read More ➡

Fisker Sold to Chinese, Another Tesla Fire, More Stimulus Failure

Elon MuskLast week bankrupt Fisker Automotive was sold to a Chinese company, and Tesla Motors experienced another fire in one of its Model S electric cars.

The Obama administration Green-stimulus losing streak continues. The two luxury electric automaking companies, where the Department of Energy deemed taxpayer “investments” should be placed at risk, don’t inspire confidence.

As NLPC has documented extensively, Fisker burned through more than $1.4 billion, which included $193 million loaned from U.S. taxpayers and millions more from state and local governments. After selling the scraps of its loan to a Chinese businessman, Richard Li, DOE said the government would realize a $139 million loss. Now another Chinese-based company, Wanxiang Group, won the rights to Fisker’s assets with a $149.2 offer at the bankruptcy auction. U.S. taxpayers are none the better for it.

Wanxiang – China’s largest auto parts manufacturer – was also the company … Read More ➡

NC Protests the Latest Showing of Big Labor’s Push Into South

Moral MondayA Saturday march in Raleigh, NC, that consisted of participants from dozens of left-wing groups – many bused in from more than 30 states – marked a new level of effort by national organized labor to assert itself in the South.

The recognized leader of the demonstration is the president of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rev. William Barber (in photo, on right), who recently received national media attention for his remark that black conservatives – such as South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott – are “ventriloquists’ dummies” for the Tea Party. Barber last year conducted a series of “Moral Mondays” protests in the state capital against changes in state law that lowered taxes and limited the growth of government.

But unions have provided extra forces in opposition to the newly Republican-controlled state legislature and governorship. North Carolina, the most ardent … Read More ➡

After Denial, Tesla Mailing New Connectors Following Calif. Fire

Emily LitellaWere the late Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner still with us today, Tesla Motors might look to her character Emily Litella for its latest public relations campaign to address overheating and fires with its Model S charging systems.

“Never mind,” the Weekend Update commentator would say.

That’s was also essentially the response from Tesla on Friday when the company announced – after it had vehemently denied any culpability about overheating systems or power cords just three weeks earlier – that it would send all Model S owners new cords to replace the defective old ones. This followed a garage fire in Irvine, Calif., which local authorities blamed on either “a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system.” New charger connectors will be mailed in the next two weeks, according to a Bloomberg report.

“These are very rare … Read More ➡

Duke Energy Expresses Concern for Poor Over Rooftop Solar Costs

Duke new logoIn a sudden, unexpected burst of concern about how mandates of renewable energy harm its low-income customers, a Duke Energy executive testified Tuesday that aspects of the government-imposed schemes (mostly welcomed by public utilities) cost far more than they save, and said they are net job losers.

The admission, by Duke’s president for North Carolina (the company’s home state), came during a hearing of a state legislative commission on energy. The specific policy targeted by Paul Newton was the practice of net metering, in which individual homeowners who have installed solar panels are able to sell their electricity to a utility’s grid at the same full kilowatt-hour price that it is delivered to them from the grid.

“While net metering customers use the same utility infrastructure as any other customer,” said Newton, “they pay a significantly lower utility bill due to the full retail rate credits they receive for the … Read More ➡