Rather than big policies like cap-and-trade and federal tax credits, sometimes it’s the little ways that corporations snooker taxpayers and their own customers that really annoy the masses.
As has been well documented by NLPC, Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers has been a big advocate for levies on carbon dioxide emissions, government giveaways for renewable energy, and Democratic conventions.
Each example shows how the Charlotte-based utility is far more interested in gaming government regulations in its favor – keeping its bottom line and shareholder returns healthy – rather than delivery of its product efficiently and affordably, which is a better and more American way to maintain profitability.
This attitude of Duke and Rogers has manifested itself in two absurd situations in North Carolina. First is the revelation that Duke has a sweet contract with Charlotte that gives the utility nearly $10 per month to maintain and operate … Read More ➡
While sales of the Chevy Volt languish, the maker of the all-electric and better-selling (but not great-selling) Nissan Leaf maintains that his company’s fortunes and that of his alternative vehicle have a promising future – with two big “ifs.”
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told Reuters he expects 2012 sales to surpass this year, barring “economic ‘armageddon’” and “ a ‘Lehman-style’ crisis.” According to Ghosn, “the highest level of uncertainty is Europe,” but he is confident “that 2012 will be another record year for the car industry no matter what Europe does.” But anyone paying attention to the debt crisis knows it has the potential for total economic collapse and to spread to other continents, including North America.
Ghosn also attributes his optimism to the prospects for electric vehicles. Reuters reported that Renault-Nissan is investing 4 billion euros ($5.57 billion) in the technology, and Ghosn has predicted sales of 1.5 million … Read More ➡
On Friday NLPC reported that the Department of Energy may have made a bad bet on Ecotality, the car-charging company that is heavily dependent on $115 million in government grants to deploy stations for electric vehicles through its EV Project. It turns out that DOE may not only be gambling taxpayer funds on a shaky company, but may also have dumped a bunch of money into a technology with a questionable future.
Last week seven automotive companies – General Motors, Ford, BMW, Audi, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen – announced they would adopt a single standard, established by the Society of Automotive Engineers, for fast charging the electric vehicles (a speedy re-boost is what every EV owner wants, right?) they produce in the future. Sound good?
Unfortunately this new zip-charging standard is not compatible with the one used for the current No. 1 electric vehicle on the U.S. market … Read More ➡
Say what you want about Duke Energy and the often-injudicious CEO James Rogers, but at least he is focused on his company’s profitability and the interests of shareholders.
Last week he composed an op-ed for The News & Observer of Raleigh in which he praised Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Sen. John McCain for their introduction of the Foreign Earnings Reinvestment Act. The bill would give American companies a “holiday” from the 35 percent U.S. corporate income tax, enabling businesses to – as James Valvo of Americans for Prosperity explained – invest in capital and R&D, hire and train employees, and pay dividends to shareholders.
“Duke Energy alone has $1.2 billion held hostage overseas by a tax system that penalizes U.S. businesses that want to bring their foreign earnings to America to create jobs,” Rogers wrote. “With the right changes to our tax laws, we can bring that … Read More ➡
In the aftermath of the Solyndra scandal, in which $535 million guaranteed by taxpayers for the solar company’s loan has been lost, President Obama told ABC News his people “felt that it was a good bet.”
It’s chilling that our country has come so far, that few people flinch at the idea that government habitually gives away money to enterprises, whether they are worthwhile “investments” or not. It doesn’t matter if they are (say, Apple or Google) or are not (Solyndra) – if there are going to be “bets,” they should be made by entities who don’t have the power to forcibly take money from others (that is, to tax). Some call it crony capitalism, which is only a byproduct of the whole concept of corporate welfare, which John Locke Foundation economist Roy Cordato has coined “corporate socialism.”
Nevertheless taxpayer-backed “Green” investments are the flavor of the moment, … Read More ➡
The merger hearings for Duke Energy and Progress Energy before the North Carolina Utilities Commission were supposed to be the last major hurdle for the deal to be approved, but now the concerns of a small coastal city and a federal government regulatory agency have cast last-minute doubts. It turns out the demands by environmental groups for Duke to pay more money into weatherization boondoggles were minor irritants compared to the threat posed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
As The News & Observer of Raleigh reported last week, FERC informed the North Carolina-based utilities that in order to win its approval, extensive changes need to be made to the deal, since the proposed plan would “have an adverse effect on competition” in the Southeast, with the agency characterizing the deal’s problems as “systematic” and “severe.”
Duke and Progress officials made the FERC decision sound like it was no biggy, … Read More ➡
A lot has been said about the ties of George Kaiser, a campaign contribution bundler for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, to the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal that likely has cost taxpayers $535 million thanks to a Department of Energy loan guarantee. Kaiser’s investment firm, Argonaut Venture Capital, held over 35 percent of the failed solar company’s stock – more than anyone else.
But next in line (with 11 percent) behind Argonaut in the Solyndra stakes is Madrone Capital Partners, which is managed by a trio whom the political Left has attempted to tie to support for Republicans. Of course, “they did it too” is not a legitimate defense, but in this case, it’s not a portrayal of the entire picture either.
Madrone is tied to the Walton family – of Walmart fame – and is co-managed by an in-law, Gregory Penner, who also serves as a Walmart director. He is the … Read More ➡
If it wasn’t already obvious, then a report in Friday’s Raleigh News & Observer about the merger hearings between Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the nation’s largest utility makes it clear: That Duke’s strategy is continued growth into “a political juggernaut.”
That’s what came out of the final day of testimony about the deal before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which appears to be the final major hurdle for the merger’s approval. The N&O cited “hints” by company executives about “further acquisitions down the road,” in which Duke would wield even more power than they do now.
Perhaps at some point the U.S. Justice Department will be required to approve Duke’s acquisitions to examine possible monopoly interests (which in reality, investor-owned utilities already enjoy). After this merger’s approval, in fact, Duke will be the service provider for almost the entire state of North Carolina – the exception being … Read More ➡
Professional subsidy-sucking General Motors, which seems content to marinate in its taxpayer “investment” indefinitely, is getting ambitious. No, not in the sense of paying back the $50 billion U.S. government bailout, or in producing vehicles people actually want to buy, but instead in finding other governments to subsidize its products.
Not surprisingly the new partner – in a 50-50 joint venture with the state-run auto industry – is China. And also unsurprisingly, General Electric will join GM in a related partnership in the communist nation.
And you probably already guessed the agreements surround the development and sales of electric vehicles. But GM took great pains to emphasize that it does not have an ambitious plan in the Peoples’ Republic for the Chevy Volt – whose sales have been a dud in the U.S. – because it is not allowed to take advantage of generous Chinese government subsidies… Read More ➡
It seemed the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the nation’s largest (by several measures) utility would sail through by the end of this year, but several activists in North Carolina have intervened at the last minute. The moves by environmental groups to extract funds for their pet projects out of the deal would make shakedown artists proud. Among the organizations – who have myriad methods of wringing dollars from taxpayers through lawsuits and corporate campaign-type pressure tactics – are Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Southern Environmental Law Center.
Armed with dozens of millions of dollars each, the litigation-loving Greenies made the laughable assertion – with help of friendly consultant Richard Hahn of La Capra Associates – that the new Duke Energy would produce more air pollution after the merger. It’s as if eco-group suck-up James Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, never had anything to … Read More ➡