Shady circumstances cloud huge solar energy plant bailout

Ivanpah is producing only 25% of the energy promised by the Obama Administration

abilliondollarsAs if receiving a $1.6 billion construction loan [1.6 times what is shown in the drawing] from U.S. taxpayers wasn’t quite generous enough, the owners of the world’s largest solar power plant — Google, BrightSource Energy and renewable energy giant NRG — are now seeking another $539 million federal grant from the Treasury Department to help pay off that previous loan. Why do they need it?

Well . . . blame the weather. It seems that the sun doesn’t shine as brightly on the California Mojave desert Ivanpah project as their studies predicted. Whereas President Obama promised in October 2010 that the sprawling 3,500-acre, state-of-the-art solar thermal facility would power up to 140,000 homes and stimulate the economy, it hasn’t turned out that way. Since last February, the plant has produced only about one-quarter of the million megawatt-hours of free electricity that the developers had promised. 

Just 2 weeks after Ivanpah became operational, NRG sought and received an extension from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) until February 2015 for paying back its first overdue $132 million installment. 

A second $158 million payment due on June 27 was then extended until December 27, and a third $117 million installment due on October 27 was reportedly extended to April 27, 2015.

The DOE handed out $18.5 billion in renewable energy grants through its “1705 Program” during 2013 alone, of which $4.4 billion went to solar projects intended to accelerate America’s energy independence. 

Amidst much hoopla at that time, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (right) touted the Ivanpah “investment,” saying, “We want to be technology leaders. It’s good for our monizeconomy and it’s also good for helping stimulate the global transition to low carbon.”

That low carbon energy fixation comes at a very high price. Much of the real cost necessary to sustain it is passed on to taxpayers and consumers through invisible subsidies and preferential purchase mandates. While those coal plants that the EPA is intent upon killing produced 39% of all U.S. electricity, don’t expect solar — 0.23% —  or wind— 4.3%, to replace them any time soon.  

Even Google, which made big headlines with its all-in Green energy advertising, has learned this. The company has had to admit that the much-heralded solar panels installed on its data centers couldn’t deliver the power required. Another grandiose project — Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, or RE<C — hasn’t worked out as planned either.  

Writing in an IEEE Spectrum article, two lead RE<C scientists concluded, “At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists — We felt that with steady improvements of today’s renewable energy technology, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope, but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.”

Environmentalists have particularly good reasons to be displeased with Ivanpah. A recent study conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity described the plant as a “mega-trap” that will kill up to 28,000 birds per year. Mistaking the large field of mirrors for water, the birds become fried when they approach….

morrisReason Foundation Vice President of Research Julian Morris (left), who authored a lengthy study of Obama Administration Green energy program corruption and cronyism, regards the Ivanpah deal — one in which corporations use our money to pay off 30% of the debt they already owe us — as “obscene.” He observes, “They’re already paying less than the market rate. Now demanding or asking for a subsidy in the form of a grant directly paying off the loan is an egregious abuse.”

Ignoring previously failed blue sky projections, a NRG spokesman now expresses “every confidence that the plant will function as anticipated for the life of the facility.” Yet even if so, it will be Ivanpah owners — not charitable taxpayers — who reap the benefits.  

For the full article, please go to:  http://www.Newsmax.com/LarryBell/Google-DOE-Green-Energy-NRG/2014/12/02/id/610506/#ixzz3L2BPnYju

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About the Author: Larry Bell

Larry Bell

CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."

  • Edward Coyle

    Nothing green about federal subsidies or bailouts. Coal and oil are paying for that.

  • John Ragozzino

    PG&E is paying $200 per megawatt for Ivanpah power, while the wholesale electricity market is $30-50 /megawatt. How can this go on?