Two Years and Duke Energy’s ‘Clean Coal’ Plant Still Sputtering

Duke EdwardsportThe monument to former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers’s boondogglery – a “clean coal and carbon capture” power plant in Edwardsport, Ind. – has become the rate-busting gift that keeps on giving.

Over the weekend the Indianapolis Star reported that the facility that Duke Energy’s Indiana president called “state-of-the-art” continues to have premature breakdown and decay problems. Repair costs are likely to be passed on to customers, who have already seen their electric bills increase by up to 16 percent because of construction estimate overruns.

“Cracking welds. Eroding pipes. Frozen transmitters. Slag building up. Coal slurry spilling on floors,” the Star reported, citing disclosures to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. “And all that was just in December.”

The plant has been operating for two years and was promoted as one of the “world’s cleanest” with the ability to deliver dependable, low-cost electricity. According to Power Read More ➡

Chrysler/GM Merger Proposal Confirms Folly of Auto Bailout

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has been pressing for a merger with General Motors. Marchionne has been appealing to hedge funds and activist investors in a move that seems to verge on desperation. The main takeaways from the appeal are that the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler were not a long-term fix for the industry and that Mr. Marchionne is one of the few experts on the industry who is honest enough to admit it.

Marchionne has had a history of speaking his mind on topics that are not politically palatable to other auto industry executives, such as GM CEO Mary Barra. In 2014 Marchionne asked consumers not to purchase Fiat’s entry into the money-losing electric car segment, the Fiat 500e. Unlike Barra and GM, who refuse to admit to the struggles of electric cars like the Cadillac ELR and Chevy … Read More ➡

Elon Musk Defends His Companies’ Subsidies

Elon MuskAlt-energy/transport-tech CEO Elon Musk and his trio of companies (Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX) didn’t cooperate with the Los Angeles Times on its article that tabulated his businesses’ whopping sum of corporate welfare ($4.9 billion), and he was predictably miffed by the (accurate) portrayal.

So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”

“If I cared about subsidies,” Musk told Hirsch in a follow-up to his Sunday expose’, “I would have entered the oil and gas industry.” He added that the financial help he receives is a “pittance” compared to government backing of fossil fuels.

Musk’s resentment (envy?) of oil and gas subsidies is amusing. Would you like to shoot your rockets into space … Read More ➡

Taxpayer Subsidies Keep Elon Musk’s Companies Afloat

Well, somebody did it, and it was the mainstream media. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for taking the time to research and estimate the total amount of U.S. public (local, state, and federal) subsidies for companies owned or run by South African-born Canadian-American Elon Musk.

The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

“Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around,” said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners, to the TimesRead More ➡

Will Criminal Charges Bring Justice for GM Victims?

The New York Times reports that the Justice Department has concluded that there was criminal wrongdoing by General Motors as the company covered-up a deadly ignition switch defect for years. That defect has now been blamed for causing the deaths of at least 107 motorists. While many observers may have been able to come to the conclusion that GM was guilty long before the Justice Department’s recent epiphany, the bigger question now is, what’s next?

GM still faces litigation risks as ongoing lawsuits seek justice for the victims’ families that suffered as a result of GM’s criminal actions. Full justice may never be served for those who suffered their losses prior to GM’s Obama-orchestrated 2009 bankruptcy process as the bankruptcy judge in that case, Robert Gerber, has given GM a free pass on any losses that occurred prior to the government bailout in a recent ruling.

There is one major … Read More ➡

‘Green’ Apple Installs Diesel Generators, Ballyhoos Phony Forest Offset Scheme

green Apple logoWhile Apple Inc. continues its laughable claim that its data centers are run “100-percent” on renewable energy – highlighted by a solar farm built adjacent to its server facility in Maiden, N.C. – public records show the company has received permits to install 44 pollutant-spewing diesel generators for back-up power.

Meanwhile two weeks ago the Cupertino, Calif.-based computing giant boasted far and wide that it was joining with the Conservation Fund to “protect” a “working forest” in Brunswick Co., N.C., which is on the state’s southeastern coast. So Apple asserts that it reduces pollution produced by fossil fuels, while conserving timber for future generations. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if it was true? Instead it’s more of what the environmental left likes to call “greenwashing.”

The diesel generators for the western North Carolina data center are the normal redundancy you’d expect a power-dependent corporation to install to insure continual … Read More ➡

GM Misses Earnings – Burns over $3 Billion in First Quarter

It appears that General Motors is trying to remedy one of the latest criticisms against them. That criticism is that the company has way too large a “cash hoard” and most recently came from former Obama Auto Task Force member turned shareholder activist, Harry Wilson. Well Harry, be at ease; GM has managed to reduce that so-called hoard by over $3 billion in just three months as first quarter earnings flopped on Wall Street.

An analysis of GM’s earnings data release shows that cash and cash equivalents plunged from $19 billion to $15.8 billion. Marketable securities’ value also fell from $9.2 billion to $8.4 billion. Unfortunately for GM optimists who might want to point to GM’s share buy-back as the reason for the cash burn, it turns out that GM only used $400 million in cash during the quarter to repurchase 10 million shares. Despite that buyback, the number … Read More ➡

Congress Asked to Stop GM From Writing Off Ignition Switch Victim Compensation Costs

Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):

We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.

As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.

Because of the government-directed bankruptcy and restructuring, GM is now shielded from much of its liability incurred beforehand. In order to ensure at least some semblance of accountability, Congress must make sure that GM’s future payouts for its recklessness are not simply the cost of doing business.

As the families of GM's victims have emphasized, no … Read More ➡

Regulatory Capture: NHTSA Toes GM Line on Brake Corrosion

The verdict is in from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on General Motors’ corroding brake line problem. Despite having received thousands of complaints from motorists regarding brake failure due to brake line rust, the agency claims GM does not have higher failure rates than other manufacturers. The clear evidence to the contrary makes this a classic case of what economists call "regulatory capture." First identified by Nobel laureate George Stigler (in photo) in 1971, it's when a government agency tasked with protecting the public interest instead acts to the benefit of an industry or particular company.

In this case, it's a particular union. The ersatz GM bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout were orchestrated by the Obama Administration with the goal of preserving the political power of the United Auto Workers. Since that time the administration has sought to prop up GM in every conceivable way, with NHTSA just one … Read More ➡

Alcoa Gets First Loan From Energy Dept. Program— But Doesn’t Need It

Ernest MonizA stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.

In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.

DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, … Read More ➡