Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If you think Solyndra is bad, wait until you see this

We've all heard about the Solyndra scandal, but that may pale in comparison to what is being described as America's Worst Wind Energy Project.

The article takes a look at General Electric's (GE) Shepherds Flat project in northern Oregon - which the author says "is a real stinker."

The majority of the funding for the $1.9 billion, 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon is coming courtesy of federal taxpayers. And that largesse will provide a windfall for General Electric and its partners on the deal who include Google, Sumitomo, and Caithness Energy. Not only is the Energy Department giving GE and its partners a $1.06 billion loan guarantee, but as soon as GE’s 338 turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the Treasury Department will send the project developers a cash grant of $490 million.

The deal was so lucrative for the project developers that last October, some of Obama’s top advisers, including energy-policy czar Carol Browner and economic adviser Larry Summers, wrote a memo saying that the project’s backers had “little skin in the game” while the government would be providing “a significant subsidy (65+ percent).”
The memo continues, explaining that the carbon dioxide reductions associated with the project “would have to be valued at nearly $130 per ton for CO2 for the climate benefits to equal the subsidies.” The memo continues, saying that that per-ton cost is “more than 6 times the primary estimate used by the government in evaluating rules.”

Never mind that GE made $5.1 billion (yes - with a 'B') from their U.S. operations last year without paying any taxes. Never mind that GE clearly has the capital/financial ability to finance this project on their own. Never mind that GE's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is the head of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

No, those facts are irrelevant. Our tax dollars are going to pay for this 'little' project and then to reward the 'investors' who have no skin in the game.

And the worst part about all of this is that these billions (yes - again with a 'B') are being taken from you and me and all Americans (probably borrowed from China) to reward campaign donors and promote a false idea that wind energy is a viable choice.

So just how many jobs will this little project create? Only 35 permanent positions. As the article says:

How much will those “green energy” jobs cost? Well, if we ignore the value of the federal loan guarantee and only focus on the $490 million cash grant that will be given to GE and its partners when Shepherds Flat gets finished, the cost of those “green energy” jobs will be about $16.3 million each.

Really?!? $16.3 million to 'create' a job?!? And that is excluding the billion in loan guarantees!!!

Where is the outrage?

The article does have some good news though. It appears that the more people learn about wind energy, the less they like it. Not because they don't want to have an alternative form of energy, but because they realize that the industry isn't viable without huge subsidies of their dollars, which they know diverts limited funds from other purposes.

During the webinar, Justin Rolfe-Redding, a doctoral student from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, discussed ways for wind-energy proponents to get their message out to the public. Rolfe-Redding said that polling data showed that “after reading arguments for and against wind, wind lost support.” He went on to say that concerns about wind energy’s cost and its effect on property values “crowded out climate change” among those surveyed.

The most astounding thing to come out of Rolfe-Redding’s mouth — and yes, I heard him say it myself — was this: “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.” After the briefings on the pros and cons of wind, said Rolfe-Redding, “enthusiasm decreased for wind. That’s a troubling finding.” The solution to these problems, said Rolfe-Redding, was to “weaken counterarguments” against wind as much as possible. He suggested using “inoculation theory” by telling people that “wind is a clean source, it provides jobs” and adding that “it’s an investment in the future.” He also said that proponents should weaken objections by “saying prices are coming down every day.”

They can spin it any way they want, but the truth came directly from a wind supporter:

As Rolfe-Redding said, the more people know about the wind business, the less they like it.

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