American Elephants

Are There ANY Clean Energy Successes? Just One? by The Elephant's Child

Obama hasn’t a lot to brag about in the way of economic recovery, so he’s trying his best to distract from the economy and turn your attention elsewhere. There is the War on Women, elevated from a matter of taxpayers not feeling that it is necessary for them to pay for women’s birth-control pills ($9. a month or less) into a vast right-wing conspiracy depriving all women of voting age of all rights to everything.  The Saga of Julia was just another attempt to make the ‘war’ more believable, but that didn’t work either. How about all his ‘investments’ in clean energy?

Can President Obama name one clean energy success? In an ad campaign from President Obama, a man claims his job was saved by President Obama’s meddling in the auto industry. The man works for Johnson Controls, a  company that received $299 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies from the stimulus and promised to build two factories in the United States. They built one in this country and will build the other one in Hungary. They will also be laying off workers in coming months.

A Congressional hearing on May 16 exposed more Obama Cronyism. BrightSource Energy received an even bigger loan guarantee from DOE than Solyndra did. They received $1.6 billion in April last year. Their CEO claimed that  the Ivanpah project would create 1,400 jobs, which would amount to $1,43 million per job. The BrightSource chairman was nominated to be Commerce Secretary, and the company has become known as “politically connected.”

First Solar received $1.46 billion in loan guarantees, but announced last month that it will lay off another 2,000 employees. On May 7, they reported lst quarter losses of 8 cents a share, a 12% revenue decline.  They are expected to join Solyndra in bankruptcy soon.

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group has gone bankrupt, but claimed they only received money from Ohio taxpayers, but they actually got $6 million from Obama’s green energy loan program as well.

A123 Systems, an electric car battery maker who shipped faulty batteries to Fisker  Automotive, has seen its stock fall to $1 and is filing for bankruptcy. They got $279 million from taxpayers

Solar Trust for America declared bankruptcy on Monday after receiving a conditional commitment of $2.3 billion in loan guarantees from the Dept. of Energy. Secretary Chu hailed it as “the largest amount ever offered to a solar project.” But they never got the money.

Abound Solar announced on 2/29/12 that they were laying off 280 workers, a 70% reduction in their workforce. They received 400 million from DOE’s loan program.

Ener1, a lithium-ion battery maker filed for bankruptcy. Ener1 owns EnerDel which received $118.5 million from Obama’s “green” energy stimulus plan.

Amonix, a solar company touted by President Obama in 2010 has laid off 200 of its 300 employees. They got $5.9 million.

These energy companies were supported by Obama’s energy stimulus, and are failing or have already filed for bankruptcy.  There are lots more stories , and more will come out over time.  It will probably be buried on the back pages of compliant media, who hope you won’t notice.

  • Evergreen Solar
  • SpectraWatt
  • Solyndra (received $535 million)
  • Beacon Power (received $43 million)
  • AES’ subsidiary Eastern Energy
  • Nevada Geothermal (received $98.5 million)
  • SunPower (received $1.5 billion)
  • First Solar (received $1.46 billion)
  • Babcock & Brown (an Australian company which received $178 million)
  • Ener1 (subsidiary EnerDel received $118.5 million)
  • Amonix (received 5.9 million)
  • The National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Fisker Automotive
  • Abound Solar (received $400 million)
  • Chevy Volt (taxpayers basically own GM)
  • Solar Trust of America
  • A123 Systems (received $279 million)
  • Willard & Kelsey Solar Group (received $6 million)
  • Johnson Controls (received $299 million)

There are also loans to foreign clean energy companies. It is estimated that 80% of these loans went to President Obama’s campaign donors. The President claims that he has created 2.7 million clean energy jobs.  But it looks as if a remarkable number of those were considerably more temporary than expected.

ADDENDUM: More of Obama’s unfortunate “investments.”

  • Raser Technologies ($33 million grant) bankrupt.
  • ECOTotality $126.2 million for electric car chargers ($45 million in losses) insider trading investigation.

According to Peter Schweizer, 71% of Obama Energy Department grants and loans went to “individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democrat party. Collectively, they raised $457,834 for the Obama Campaign, and were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.35 Billion.” The Energy Department’s Inspector General has launched more than 100 criminal investigations” according to Politico, related to the department’s green energy programs.


It’s Not Only the Spending, It’s That the Policies Won’t Work! Part II by The Elephant's Child

“The science is beyond dispute.  The facts are clear.  Sea levels are rising,. Coastlines are shrinking.  We see record drought, spreading famine, storms that are growing stronger each passing hurricane season.”  Barack Obama, Nov. 17, 2008.

The president has made innumerable variations of this statement, but he continues to be a true believer, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  Billions of dollars have been invested by this administration in the belief that global warming is real or a belief that the support from activist environmental organizations must be paid back.

Here at American Elephants we believe that the globe is always warming and cooling just as it has for centuries. We don’t know what the “right” temperature is.  We believe that since wind turbines and solar arrays must have constant 24/7 backup from conventional power sources they are of no use at all and  that nuclear plants have proved their efficiency and dependability.  I entered “global warming” in our own search function, and was startled to find over 200 posts.

The federal government is handing out $2 billion for new solar plants that the president claims will create thousands of jobs and increase the use of “renewable-energy sources.”   Spain’s experience proves this to be a pipe dream that will cost 2.2 jobs in the regular economy. Spain has recognized that their wind and solar jobs were a big waste of money.  The Spanish unemployment rate is over 20%,  and spending $750,000 for each green job didn’t work.

America’s green jobs are being created in China, South Korea and Spain.  About $92 billion of the original $814 billion stimulus funds was targeted for ‘renewable’ energy projects.  The American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop reported that 11 U.S. Wind Farms used their grants to purchase 695 out of 982 turbines from overseas suppliers. Wind is not power at all.

Those who really understand the energy industry and the technologies involved tell us that wind energy does not work. It is not technically sound, economically  competitive, or an environmentally beneficial method of producing electrical energy.  Solar is even less so, and neither replaces petroleum.  Ethanol is a scam. Any widespread use of electric cars is years and years away, if ever.  Obama seems to believe that if he orders something to be, and throws enough money at it, then it will be. This is not reality but wishful thinking. And the green jobs are as insubstantial as the energy which they involve.

A CBO study “How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment” showed that job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, raising the overall unemployment rate.  In other words, there is no green stimulus.  Carbon cuts lead to net job losses.  Those who keep their jobs will get reduced pay.

Obama’s appointee to the chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) declared that the United States had no need of new nuclear or coal baseload electricity generation, and that wind was going to be “the cheapest thing to do.”

Robert Pelitier, editor of Power magazine wrote:“If we assume the entire eastern coastline were open to development, then there is room for 3,600 wind turbines, one row deep.  Also, if the rating of all these new turbines were the same as for Cape Wind”  — that’s the project stalled by the Kennedys and Kerrys of the world for threatening their views — then to replace the entire nation’s installed capacity with a like amount of offshore capacity requires 334.462 wind turbines.  In other words, the entire east coast would have wind turbines…located every half-mile and 93 turbines deep (over 30 miles) out to sea.”

Donald Hertzmark of Master Resource did a little math experiment.  He picked a number at random $287.4 billion dollars.  In green tech, you can construct about 136.9 GW of wind generation.  At an average plant factor of 25% this would yield about 299.7 billion kWh per year.  Another way to generate 300 billion kWh a year it to take 2 trillion ft³ of gas from shale deposits, put that gas into 45.6 GW of CCGT units operating at 75% plant factors, then your 299,7 billion kWh would appear.  To produce 2 trillion ft³ of gas from shale annually you need about $85 billion (present value) in fixed investment and production costs over 20 years.  You also need to build the CCGT plants, for say, $38 billion.

The “bad” future, the one that produces reliable and clean electricity from natural gas (domestic US gas) will cost about $123.4 billion or 43% of what the windy future costs, and we’d have $154 billion left over.  The administration is math-phobic?

The Obama administration has insisted that their policies and subsidies have created a boom in ‘”green jobs,” to the tune of 200,000 positions in the alternative energy or environmental industries.  Senator Charles Grassley has been pushing the administration to substantiate its claims.  It turns out that the administration has adopted an unusually broad definition of such jobs that could include financial advisers, wholesale buyers, reporters, public relations specialists, marketing managers and other occupations whose connection to protecting the environment is — um — rather gauzy.  Reporters and correspondents?

Universities are offering majors preparing students for “green jobs,” another cheat.  There are some, but scarce, and departments will be downsizing.

ADDENDUM: Here is a column appearing in the Sunday Washington Post, from Robert Bryce, energy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, identifying “Five Myths About Green Energy,”and taking a hard look at common misconceptions about what “green” means.

“Hope” Is Not a Recipe For Success. Try Common Sense and Hard Work! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s “green jobs” program promised to weatherize 1,000,000 homes each year. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy in February 2010, issued two conclusions: Out of the $4.73 billion that the stimulus bill provided for weatherization work, only $368.2 million had actually been spent. (Less than 8 percent). Of the 10 highest grant recipients, only two had completed more than two percent of the planned units.

The weatherization program was supposed to be the quickest and most effective of job-creation programs, but to quote the report: “The Nation has not, to date, realized the potential economic benefits of the $5 billion in Recovery Act funds allocated to the Weatherization Program.” Why not?

A Depression-era law, known as the Davis-Bacon Act, meant that recipients of weatherization funds had to pay laborers a locally “prevailing wage.” States and counties didn’t actually know what the prevailing wage was. Most chose not to begin projects until wage rates were formally established. California had “furloughs.” The Energy Dept. mandated that all workers receive additional training — budget shortfalls and “furloughs.”

Idled oil-rig workers in the Gulf who are receiving compensatory benefits from BP aren’t going to get any relief from the IRS.  Their benefits will be fully taxable, the IRS wants their share of that $20 billion fund demanded by the federal government to help spill victims.

Eight of the deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have either left, or are finalizing their plans to do so.  The administration apparently thought that they would sit around idle for six months.  There is an economic disaster to accompany the ecological disaster.  Some 16 shallow-water rigs are sitting idle, and in 30 days that total will grow to 34 rigs.  Approximately 50 offshore marine service and supply vessels are already out of work and that number is expected to grow to 100 shortly.  Louisiana’s shipbuilding industry is bracing for a potentially devastating drop in new business and likely cancellation of existing contracts.

With the overhaul of financial regulation nearing completion, some Democrats are hoping that Congress can turn to the next big legislative challenge – energy and climate change. There is no consensus yet what such legislation should include, but there is strong determination on the part of the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to move something – anything – before Congress leaves town in August. Um — anything?

These are just a few examples of the mindset.  They must do something! They will make a law, turn out a regulation, mandate — something or other. Because there has been no careful investigation of what is actually needed, no consideration of possible unintended consequences, things simply do not work.

Efforts to salvage things in the Gulf are hamstrung by red tape issued by bureaucrats who know less than nothing about the problems.  Priorities are misplaced, expertise ignored, ideas discarded, common sense and simple straightforward economics are left out of the equation.

More Funny Business in the Federal Bureaucracy! by The Elephant's Child

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has a longstanding reputation as a watchdog for funny business in the federal bureaucracy. This makes him a good guy in the mind of those who are concerned about federal spending. One of his staffers was pouring through the Federal Register, which is read by federal bureaucrats, and never seen by the public.

There was, on March 16, something called a “notice of solicitation of comments” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor. (You can see why it is little read by the public).

“BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs,” said the note in the Federal Register. The notice said there is”no widely accepted standard definition of ‘green jobs’.” The Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions for definitions. The staffer went to the Department of Labor Web site, where he found a number of announcements like these:

  • U.S . Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training through Recovery Act.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $180 million in “Pathways Out of Poverty” Training Grants for Green Jobs.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs.

So, the Labor Department is dispensing hundreds of millions out for “green jobs” and has just admitted that it doesn’t know what a “green job” is.  Senator Grassley asked what definition of green jobs did the Labor Dept. use when it spent the money?  What about all the other government agencies that are spending millions on green jobs?  Nobody has a clue.

The Labor Dept. has not responded to Senator Grassley.  The Labor Department has spent $500 million on green jobs.  The Recovery Act contains more than $80 billion in clean energy funding”to promote economic recovery and develop green energy jobs.”

If green sources are really cheaper than fossil fuels, then there is no need to subsidize them, because households and businesses would have a built-in economic incentive to rely on renewable energy sources.  But without subsidy, wind-farms, solar arrays and biofuels quickly shut down.  Colleges and universities have added environmental majors, and training for so-called green jobs, but the economy has not responded with job openings.

Wind and Solar Fantasies Meet Financial Reality. It’s Not Pretty! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has told us, at least eight times, to look at the wonders of Spain’s “green jobs” and green-energy economy.  But when Standard & Poor’s cut their credit rating on April 28,  Spain’s socialist government began to recognize that, just as Gabriel Calzada warned, their wind and solar programs were a big waste of money.  You can’t keep spending $750,000 per “green job” when you are going broke.

The media has been covering the government’s admission of the collapse and spectacular costs of Spain’s solar industry.  The country’s unemployment rate has already passed 20 percent, the public deficit will soon reach 12 percent, and the example of the financial meltdown of Greece is frightening everyone.  The current situation of the renewable sector is a big threat.  Last year the cost of aid to the renewable sector was higher than the total cost for all electricity for the country.

Reductions in subsidies for solar plants has caused big photovoltaic plant owners to shelve their Spanish stock offerings.  Investors are scared off.  The following quote tells you what you need to know about Spain’s “green’ energy:

Solar-plant owners including General Electric Co. earn about 12 times what’s paid for power from fossil fuels. Most of that is a subsidy charged to customers.  The rest is charged to taxpayers.

You would think that $750,000 per green job would make the red lights start flashing, but when you are swept up in an ideological fantasy, it apparently takes a louder wake-up call.  The debacle of Greece is shaking up the European Union.

Take Off The Green Glasses, Mr. President. The Emerald City Was Just Another Fraud. The Wizard Was a Fake. by The Elephant's Child
January 14, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

Rising unemployment, record-breaking deficits and guess who gets a $541,184 grant from the Stimulus plan?   Dr. Michael Mann, under investigation at Pennsylvania State University, a central figure in the ClimateGate scandal,and the author of the discredited “hockey stick” graph on which the misleading IPCC assessments were based gets over a half a million.

Professor Mann is under investigation by the University because of his activities with a circle of climate scientists who appeared to be engaged in falsification of data in boosting their case for global warming.   Emails, documents and computer code released from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, revealed discussions about manipulation of data, and efforts to stifle opposing views and interfere with their publication.

The Obama administration apparently believes that it doesn’t much matter where the money goes in the economy.  The simple fact of spending taxpayer money and newly borrowed money will somehow fix everything, and if spending some doesn’t work, they’ll just spend more.

Far too much money has gone to reward campaign contributors, carved out special favors for the favored, and now has rewarded loyalists in the climate change debate.  (Environmental organizations were big donors too).

All very nice politically, but it is not surprising that Obama’s stimulus plan has failed to create jobs.  The stimulus was not sold to the public as a way to promote the administration’s position on global warming theory.

To be fair, the grant was initiated in June 2009, but after the ClimateGate scandal broke, one would assume someone would say oops! not a good idea. The White House has not grasped that the scandal puts the whole global warming  theory into the reconsider basket.

The administration announced Friday the awarding of $2.3 billion in tax credits — from last year’s stimulus bill — to companies that create “green jobs.” The announcement was obviously timed to counter the bad news that the country lost another 85,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained in double digits.

“Building a robust clean-energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future — jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” President Obama said Friday.

He says the grants will create 17,000 clean tech jobs.  That’s $135,294 per job.  The experience of Spain, Britain, Germany and Denmark with “clean energy” and “green jobs” suggests that not only will this not work, but that 2.5 jobs will be lost in the regular economy for every “green job” created.

Liberals are never interested in evidence or experience. More money always solves the problem.  The administration wants Congress to approve another $5 billion for “tens of thousands” more “green jobs.”

Sounds Good, but “Green Jobs” Are Not The Answer. by The Elephant's Child
January 8, 2010, 2:27 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Spain has traditionally suffered from relatively high unemployment, double the 9.3 percent average for the European Union,  but for the 16 to 24 age group it has now reached 42.9 percent, the highest in Europe.

Spain was going to have a booming economy with promised green jobs.  Spain was on the forefront of a conversion to renewable energy, a sustainable life style free from an addiction to oil, by adopting wind and solar power.  California has often pointed to Spain as an example for California to follow, as has the Obama administration.

Every green job in Spain created by government subsidies has resulted in the loss of 2.5 jobs in the regular economy as employers are forced to cut back their work force in response to higher energy costs.

Spain attempted to make it easier to put young people to work, by employing them on temporary contracts, so when the economy sank, they were the easiest to let go.  How many jobs are being created here on temporary contracts funded by the new stimulus program?

If you take tax money out of the pocket of voters and use it to pay for a temporary job, is that called “creating or saving a job?”  Someone should explain private enterprise to the Obama people.

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