Doubling Down on DOE: President Puts Our Money Where His Mouth Is

by William Yeatman on February 13, 2012

in Blog

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Last November, I warned the President that he would come to regret green energy Stimulus spending, because venture socialism is inherently wasteful, and therefore prone to failed investments. I predicted that indications of failure would pop up every week in the run up to November 2012, like a slow drip media nightmare. And since I wrote that, I’ve been proven right (see: Amonix, Evergreen Solar, local reporting of “green jobs” training failures, Beacon Power, the ongoing Solyndra saga, underperforming electric vehicle sales, Ener1).

In only the last week:

  • The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is reviewing the Port of Los Angeles’s decision to use $489,000 in green energy stimulus funds to retrofit the Angelena II, a 70-ft. Port-owned yacht used for publicity tours.
  • Arizona-based First Solar announced plans to idle half of its German factory and put about 1,200 employees there on a part-time work schedule. The reason? Declining subsidies in Europe. This demonstrates the riskiness of predicating your business plan on favorable political winds. Forbes’s Ucilia Wang reports that First Solar stock fell 70 % in 2011. According to the Arizona Republic, First Solar received Stimulus-funded loan guarantees for the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch and the Desert Sunlight projects in California.

In light of the fact that green energy Stimulus spending has been a magnet for bad press, I was shocked two weeks ago during the State of the Union address, when the President announced that he would “double down” on green jobs spending. That’s like doubling down on a six when the dealer is showing an ace. I thought perhaps the President was merely rallying the base with empty rhetoric, but with today’s release of the White House budget, it seems that he is putting our money where his mouth is. According to Politico’s Morning Energy, the Department of Energy—whence the worst, most wasteful stimulus spending—is getting a raise:

BUDGET WINNERS: The Energy Department, where Obama sent a clear sign he wouldn’t back off his green energy agenda despite constant Republican attacks. DOE’s total resources would grow by about $1.4 billion, a 5.6 percent increase that reflects a whopping $522 million, or 29 percent, increase for renewable energy sources and an additional $174 million for a revamped industrial technology-advanced manufacturing program.

So, Energy Secretary Steven Chu presides over one of the President’s biggest vulnerabilities—Solyndra et al.—and he gets rewarded with a spending boost? Heckuva job, Stevie!

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