GAO Challenges Energy Dept. on Green Loan Success Claims

Peter DavidsonBack in November the Department of Energy boasted that its loan program for renewable energy technologies and “advanced” (mostly electric) vehicles had achieved a positive balance, which many in the media lapped up after so many failures such as Solyndra.

But now that the Government Accountability Office has revealed in a detailed study that the true cost of the loan program to taxpayers is $2.2 billion – plus administrative expenses – journalists are nowhere to be found. As for DOE, they still stick to their story.

The GAO explained that the staggering sum reflects the “credit subsidy cost” of the loans and loan guarantees in the portfolios of Loan Guarantee Program and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which now have been combined. The credit subsidy cost is defined by GAO as “the net present value of the difference between projected cash flows to and from the government over the …

Inspector General Says DOE Hid Vital Info from Audit of Bankrupt Ecotality

Blink chargerAfter an Inspector General’s audit earlier this year of now-bankrupt electric vehicle charging company Ecotality, which determined that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted in a nearly unworkable program, the IG has returned with findings that the Department of Energy withheld information about the project’s problems during his first investigation.

The audit, released by DOE IG Gregory Friedman in July, determined (among other things) that the persistent weak demand for electric vehicles harmed the deployment and timeliness of a $135 million-plus taxpayer funded charging network, which led to excessive grants and project expansion that became virtually unusable under the grants’ guidelines. Investigators discovered that conditions for reimbursement to Ecotality for the EV charging demonstration project were “very generous” and that cost-sharing requirements were extremely lenient.

Shortly after that report was released, on August 7, Ecotality informed DOE that it was in financial distress and that its ability to do …

Taxpayer-Funded Solar Company Leaves Environmental, Financial Mess

solar panelsIt may be the height of irony that a company that was supposed to soar to the top of the new clean energy economy, with the help of U.S. taxpayers to undergird President Obama’s stimulus visions, has instead left both an environmental and financial mess after its demise.

Yet that’s exactly the case with miserable failure Abound Solar, which the president’s Department of Energy thought so much of, they awarded it a $400 million loan guarantee. That proposition quickly soured and the government halted payouts after about $70 million. The company went bankrupt in June 2012, leaving taxpayers out between $40 million and $60 million that was never recovered.

There was other collateral damage, not the least of which was a huge toxic mess from unused panels and abandoned chemicals at Abound’s former facilities. The environmental nightmare was discovered earlier this year, but this month – thanks to …

House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails

Jonathan SilverA hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.

Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”

Jackson, of course, said it was perfectly normal to direct a corporation official that she regulates to communicate with her via methods for which the public has no access. Marlo Lewis …

Administration Denies Reality at Fisker Congressional Hearing

Fisker hearingAs the Department of Energy seized the last of Fisker Automotive’s reserves in lieu of an unknown amount that it was due to repay this week, what’s left of the lame electric automaker clings to the slim hope it can survive.

While CEO Tony Posawatz and his team may need an intervention, a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday revealed that DOE and committee Democrats (as well as those in the Obama administration) are hopelessly stuck in an alternate universe, where losing millions of taxpayer dollars is considered a good record. Republicans had called officials from the company – including founder Henrik Fisker, as well as administrators of DOE’s loan program – to explain the logic that went into granting $529 million to a fledgling, unproven car company that targets an ultra-rich clientele.

Democrats attempted to dismiss the hearing as a “show trial” to …

No April Fools: Obama’s Green Energy Stimulus is Officially a Joke

Three Stooges photoPresident Obama’s alternative energy “stimulus,” administered through his Department of Energy by previous Secretary Steven Chu, had already become a joke because of the failures and foibles of so many recipients of Recovery Act funds. But now – as though officially commemorating the absurdity of this historically bad U.S. government program – one of its bankrupt beneficiaries has changed its name from one of simplicity to one of mockery.

Electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems has changed its name to B456 Systems. Incorporated.

Reporting the development, headline writers across the nation rubbed their eyes, double-checked the wire information, and then – especially realizing how close they were to April Fool’s Day – had to add extra assurance to the breaking news.

For the Boston Herald, where A123 was headquartered near MIT, it was this:

A123 Systems changes name to B456 (seriously)

The Milwaukee

GAO: Bad Publicity Scaring Prospects Away from Stimulus Money

MoneyThe publicity surrounding President Obama’s failed strategy to stimulate the economy, by putting clueless manager Steven Chu in charge of the Department of Energy’s lending activities, has become so bad that few “green energy economy” entrepreneurs want to accept taxpayer money any more.

That’s according to a report published earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed DOE’s loan programs for a briefing to both the House and Senate’s Appropriations subcommittees on Energy. Amusingly though, the Web site of DOE’s Loan Programs Office still calls itself “The Financing Force Behind America’s Clean Energy Economy.” The minor blip that undermines that premise is that DOE is having trouble getting someone to borrow $55 billion.

GAO’s director for Natural Resources and Environment, Frank Rusco, undertook an audit/investigation that evaluated three types of DOE loans: the 1703, 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing programs. The 1705 program …

Abound Solar’s Toxic Waste Highlights Enviro Hypocrisy on Pollution

Abound logoAnd the environmental pressure groups wanted you to believe solar energy was “clean” and “green.”

If that’s true, then why do we keep hearing the words “toxic” and “hazardous” connected with the production of solar panels – especially with the companies that fail?

The latest example of phony eco-purity is Abound Solar, which declared bankruptcy last summer after it had received $70 million of a $400 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee. According to news reports from Colorado, where Abound was based, the state Department of Public Health and Environment found 2,000 pallets of solar panels that couldn’t be sold and therefore were identified as toxic.

“At the time of the inspection these 2,000 pallets of solar panels were deemed unsellable and a viable agreement for reclamation of the solar panels was not evident. Therefore, the department views these 2,000 pallets of solar panels as a characteristic hazardous …

2012: The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste

Obama InvescoThe past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.

Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle

Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.

The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government …

Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back

Fisker logoAmidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.

In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.

The problem isn’t just …