Government Integrity Project

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.

Mel Watt Sworn in as Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Conservator

Melvin Watt sworn in as FHFA headAs a Democratic North Carolina congressman, Melvin Watt had a hand in creating the mortgage meltdown. Now he’s the new head of an agency charged with helping to reverse the meltdown. Irony is well and alive in Washington, D.C.  Yesterday former Rep. Watt (in photo) was sworn in to a five-year term as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two companies now hold or guarantee roughly $5 trillion in assets. The Democratic-majority Senate had confirmed Watt on December 10 by 57-41 following a failed effort in October to block a Republican filibuster.

Chevy Volt Electric Range Drops to 20 Miles in Cold

Volt in snowA recent study by fleetcarma.com unveils yet another drawback of General Motors' much-hyped Chevy Volt. It appears that the environmentally-conscientious, affluent owners of the vehicles who drive in cold weather will get about half of the electric range, on average, of those who drive in warmer climates.

Obamacare Pork to UAW Rolled Out Without a Glitch

Obama UAWWhile the Obama Administration is still pumping resources and taxpayer money into the implementation of Obamacare, the initial disbursement of pork included in the bill was successfully doled out almost a full two years ago. And the main recipient of taxpayer largess was, once again, the UAW.

The Obamacare pork came in the form of a program called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program or ERRP. $5 billion of taxpayer money was allocated to help pay for healthcare costs to retirees between the age of 55 and 65. Number one on the union-dominated list of recipients was the UAW, which received $387.2 million for its VEBA fund, which was set up to pay UAW retiree health care costs. This amount was still not good enough for the UAW as they penned a letter to Congress in February of 2012 requesting an increase in ERRP funding to $10 billion.

More Fire, More Subsidies for Tesla in California

Elon MuskThere’s that uncomfortable juxtaposition of words again: “Tesla” and “fire.”

This time was quite an accomplishment by the electric automaker’s publicity department: they kept the Irvine, Calif. garage fire quiet for over a month. The secrecy expired on the November 15 incident when the Orange County Fire Authority attributed the incident to the EV’s re-powering set-up, according to a report obtained by Reuters.

GM Spends $1.3 Billion to “Create or Retain” 1,000 Jobs

Just days after the US government announced their exit from General Motors, the company announced a move that sounds like it could have come directly out of the Obama Administration playbook. GM is boasting about "creating or retaining" roughly a thousand jobs at the cost of approximately $1.3 million per job in a move that could only be viewed as a positive from a political point of view.

Dana Milbank's Hack Journalism

MilbankYesterday, I confronted outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, the speaker at a National Press Club luncheon. At a press conference beforehand, and through the first question at the conclusion of his remarks, I requested that GM repay taxpayers the $10 billion in direct GM bailout costs.

Akerson's refusal dominated much of the media coverage of the event. This was clearly not the story line that Akerson intended.  In short, we happily stepped all over his message that the bailout is a success and that GM is back.

Adoption of New Bulbs Requires Big Subsidies and Killing Incandescents

Cree bulbThe full implementation of the incandescent light bulb ban takes effect in two weeks, which in the U.S. government’s anti-liberty wisdom will effectively eliminate the competition to companies like Cree, Inc., who one industry analyst has said is trying to do a “land grab” of the alternative lighting market.

Besides the illegalization of the Thomas Edison’s filamentous light, Cree last week received a $30 million tax credit from the Department of Energy to expand its manufacturing in Racine, Wisc. and Durham, N.C., where it is also headquartered. That was the second installment for Cree from the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program, which was funded by $2.3 billion from the Recovery Act. The first windfall for Cree from the stimulus was a $39-million tax credit, as well as $1.8 million for research and development. This is in addition to millions of dollars in federal grants and contracts, plus deals for much more with state and local governments to essentially smash perfectly good incandescents to replace them with Cree’s light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Will Puerto Rican Bonds Trigger a Mainland Bailout?

Puerto RicoFinancial bailouts have become a fact of American life. Yet the biggest bailout of all may be in an unexpected place. Welcome to the island of Puerto Rico, home of photogenic beaches, lush forests, chic nightclubs, and less happily, at least $70 billion in public debt, more than double the sum from 2004. The U.S. mainland is yoked to this debt. Well over 50 domestic municipal bond funds have at least 10 percent of their assets invested in Puerto Rico. Worse, the island economy is in a prolonged recession. Unemployment has been running at around 15 percent. A third of residents are on food stamps. And migration to our shores is accelerating. Puerto Ricans for nearly a century have been U.S. citizens.

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