Fiscal Cliff Deal Saves Big Wind for Another Year

wind turbineThe “fiscal cliff” agreement was not only low-lighted by a wholesale surrender on taxes and spending by the Republicans, but also featured special favors and breaks for recreational industries like film production ($430 million) and motorsports ($70 million), as well as the sector that has been oft-criticized since President Obama entered the White House: renewable energy.

Specifically, while nothing new came through for often-bashed electric automobiles, tax credits (all continuations of credits that were set to expire) were extended to plug-in motorcycles. Buyers are allowed to deduct from their tax bills 10 percent of the cost of the two- (or three-)wheelers, or $2,500, whichever is less. This parallels the $7,500 federal tax credit for four-wheeled electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The breaks are projected to cost taxpayers $4 million over the next two years.

The cliff aversion perversion also delivered for …

GM-Funded EV Company Gives Up on DOE Loan, Ends Operations

bright automotive

In administrating its stimulus-fed loan and grants programs, the Department of Energy has been accused of incompetence, carelessness, recklessness, and cronyism. Now it can add inconsistency to those distinguishing characteristics.

Last week Bright Automotive, an electric vehicle start-up company that General Motors helped two years ago with an investment of at least $5 million from its venture capital arm, gave up hope on winning a $450 million loan from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. As the company announced the withdrawal of its loan application and that it would end operations, CEO Reuben Munger and COO Mike Donoughe sent (and released to the media) a letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu that sharply criticized the loan programs processes and outlined their frustrations. 

“Bright has not been explicitly rejected by the DOE,” the Bright executives wrote, “rather, we have been forced to say ‘uncle….’”

“Last week we received the fourth ‘near …

Green Tech Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Investment’

Google logoPresident Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would not “walk away from the promise of clean energy,” and according to a Politico report, he “doubled-down” on the promise by highlighting (more) commitments to federal grants and incentives for wind energy, solar power and natural gas vehicles in quasi-campaign speeches out West.

“We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States,” the president said at another appearance at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. “We’ve got to double down on a clean-energy industry that’s never been more promising.”

The president speaks as if these energy technologies would wither without government support. But last year USA Today reported that big companies were “aggressively” jumping into clean technology, with one …

Taxpayers Take Hit as Layoffs, Bankruptcies Plague Green Firms

Ener1 photoFederal tax credits, loan and grant programs that expired at the end of last year have plugged the financial flow that made so-called “renewables” and electric vehicles viable, so they are now shedding employees and going bankrupt, illustrating that the “clean” industry owed its existence solely to government.

Even with the government money, they are failing. Yesterday Indiana-based Ener1, an energy storage company that received $118.5 million from DOEfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite plans to have 1,400 employees in Indiana by 2015, the company had downsized in the state from 380 to approximately 250 since March. Ener1’s stock price fell from more than $4 a share to under a dollar, and the company was booted from the NASDAQ stock exchange in October, when its stock was trading for less than 20 cents.

The Department of Energy seems to have no limit in its willingness to subsidize …