Tag Archives: DOE

Costs Up, Quality Down for School Lunch

MyPlateSchools across the U.S. are struggling to meet the school lunch requirements championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and regulated by the Departments of Agriculture and Education. School boards continue to raise the prices of school lunch while simultaneously reducing the amount of healthy foods offered to students.

The new school lunch requirements, defined in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), have prompted the Government Accountability Office to recommend the Department of Agriculture modify its regulations. The GAO investigated several schools and food distributors and found a decrease in meat and grains served to students, and an increase in sugar, salt, and fat, in direct opposition to the stated goals of the new nutrition standards passed by Congress in 2010.

As schools struggle to meet the new calorie counts and portion sizes, many are having to raise prices in order to meet the federal standards and receive federal funding.

The Lynchburg City School Board is the latest in a list of schools nationwide to debate increased school lunch prices. The board is considering the price hike as a result of the new federal mandates on pricing and food offerings. In recent months, prices in Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and elsewhere have increased by 10, 15 and even 25 cents per student.

In many cases, the quality of foods offered to students has decreased despite the price jump. One fourth grader went undercover to document the quality of his New York City public school lunch offering. Video here: Yuck! In his documentary, Zachary Maxwell records his school lunches for six months and brings to light the vast difference between what the Department of Education and his school say publicly about the lunch menu and the reality of what is actually served to students.

The GAO found some schools substitute whole grain chips for potato chips, natural shredded cheese for processed cheese sauce, and add high-in-fat sauces like ranch dressing in order to meet the minimum calorie requirements. Ketchup and pizza sauce are considered “vegetables” in some cases and hamburger patty sizes have nearly been cut in half.

The Department of Agriculture has agreed to temporarily suspend some meat and grain limits until further review, but students still aren’t buying it. Many reports have emerged from students and school districts all over the country saying students are left hungry and are in some cases boycotting the meals.

To learn more about the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and the War on School Lunch, click here.

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Abound Solar Joins Growing List of Obama Green Energy Failures

 Abound Solar of Longmont, Colorado recently announced the laying off of 70% of it’s workforce and delayed/cancelled plans for a new plant in Indiana. Just like the Solyndra Solar Panel company failure and other green energy schemes designed to be Democratic donor pocket-stuffers, Abound received hundreds of millions of dollars in Steven Chu-approved DOE green energy loans from the U.S. taxpayer. $400 million dollars to be exact. And just like Solyndra, this is a taxpayer-funded  failure designed by another Democratic big government grifter, Mr. Pat Stryker, the founder of Bohemian Companies. ( an Abound investor)

 The Denver Post, while reporting about Abound’s recent announcement of laying off 70% of it’s workforce, and pointing towards another $400 million dollar loss that will be shoved down the taxpayers throats, forgot/refused/was incapable of that type of truth-telling about it being a big Obama bundler-financier behind the Abound green energy failure. The Denver Post did make the effort to publish all of the very same lame, tired excuses ( as we heard from Solyndra) on why this green energy company failed:

“We are facing tough market conditions and falling prices,” said Steve Abely, Abound’s chief financial officer.
The price for solar panels has collapsed — dropping almost 60 percent to $1.10 a watt between 2009 and 2011, according to industry consultant Solarbuzz.The decline was caused by Chinese manufacturers, backed by low-cost government loans, ramping up production, Abely said.
The Abound green energy company, according to one of the thousands of taxpayer-funded campaign speeches by Barack Hussein Obama, was supposed to  “create whole new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America.” However, fourteen months later the company is bleeding financially, laying off hundreds of workers, shutting down production to retool, and complaining that it is all China’s fault. This scenario also fits the [Solyndra] pattern of Abound laying off it’s main production force due to being insolvent, yet staying in business to “retool.”
Solyndra paid it’s remaining employees huge bonuses after they went belly up, saying they had to do it to keep “valued” employees. Keeping “Valued employees” at a bankrupt green energy plant? For what? Obama’s reelection campaign? Or for another feeding frenzy at the taxpayer cash trough as soon as Obama and company can sneak it by the media? They are not producing a profitable product, yet stay in business. Only in big government la-la-land, where tax dollars are free for the taking for Obama-supporters does that happen. While paying out those bonuses (at taxpayer expense) at the Solyndra plant, those same “valued employees” were caught smashing millions of dollars in special materials and class used to make solar panels and throwing it into the dumpster. See those valued employees in action burning the taxpayer, complete with video here.
Bob Beauprez over at Townhall did the real legwork here, in showing just who the Abound investor Mr. Stryker is:
So, how did Abound convince the Obama Administration to approve a $400 million loan?  Just as Solyndra and other companies that received millions and billions for green projects were connected to campaign contributors and administration officials, one of the main investors in Abound – Pat Stryker – is a big Democrat financier.  The following is courtesy of Joel Gehrke and the Washington Examiner.  What Gehrke failed to mention is that billionaire Stryker is also a founding member of the “Gang of Four” who invested millions in what became known as the Colorado Model, a largely covert political strategy that reversed the political power in Colorado and became embraced by the Democrat Party.

“Pat Stryker, founder of Bohemian Companies (an Abound Solar investor, as the Sunlight Foundation first observed), donated $50,000 to support President Obama’s 2009 inauguration and bundled another $87,500 for the event, Stryker also gave $35,500 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, according to FEC reports, and another $5000 to the Democratic White House Victory Fund in 2008.”

“In addition to supporting Democratic candidates, Stryker also provides significant financial backing to third-party groups that support Democratic candidates.”

“For instance, FEC reports show Stryker donated $145,000 in 2010 to America’s Families First Action Fund (AFFAF) and $75,000 to ‘Women Vote’ operation organized by the pro-choice group, Emily’s List. the Washington Post reported in October 2010 that AFFAF had spent almost $6 million during that cycle on behalf of Democratic candidates only. ‘Women Vote’ is a similarly partisan effort by Emily’s List to ‘turn out women voters for our pro-choice Democratic women candidates and every Democrat on the ticket.’

Are Americans really going to vote for four more years of these types of blatant big government graft and taxpayer abuse at the hand of Barack Obama and his appointed minions in the DOE ?

 

Solyndra-Style DOE Loan Report Released

The Obama administration was caught red-handed giving a half-billion, taxpayer-funded green energy loan to a [now bankrupt] green energy company in what is now known as the Solyndra  pay-for-play scandal. While the media downplayed the event, thanks to citizen reporting and social media programs on the Internet, most concerned citizens are now aware of how the Obama administration and the DOE have been using Solyndra-style green energy loans to fill Democrat’s campaign coffers at taxpayer expense.

To add insult to injury, Solyndra employees were caught by a news crew effectively throwing away more taxpayer dollars, as can be seen here. As the public outcry about this taxpayer abuse became louder, Congress started holding hearings about just what went down at Solyndra. So what’s the White House to do under such scrutiny? They hire the former treasury official, Mr. Herb Allison, the former Treasury official who oversaw the TARP [fraud] program to spin up a “report” to try to paint the Solyndra scandal in a good light. This is nothing more than propaganda 101 folks, designed to sweep the Solyndra scandal under the rug. Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

The recently released, ” W/H ‘Independent’ Report on DOE Loans” can be read in it’s entirety here.  While the White House relies on the keywords “independent” and “outsider” in an attempt to make it appear as if this report was done by someone with no DC connections, as noted above it was, in fact, done by the former TARP overseer Mr. Allison. That would be the very same TARP program in which there was very little transparency in spending almost a trillion dollars of the people’s money, which has left most people wondering just where all that money went today.  In a quick response to the release of this report, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) stated, “This is less a report than an umbrella to deflect the criticism that’s pouring down on the Administration,” In other words, file this report under the Obama-propaganda 101 category.

The Hill came out with an article on the DOE Energy Loan report that has some interesting factoids about this report: (emphasis added)

An outside review of the Energy Department’s embattled green energy loan program calls for several steps to improve oversight but also provides lower estimates of taxpayer risk than an earlier federal forecast.

The “reduced risk” to taxpayers odds of losing their hard-earned dollars, according to this report, has now went down from an estimated $5 billion dollars to a new and revised number of $3 billion tax dollars being put at rick of loss. Color the taxpayers happy and break out the champagne! Does that “reduced figure” of $3 billion lost taxpayer dollars contain the previously lost billions in several bankrupt green energy scams , including  Solyndra? No it doesn’t, and the Obama administration wants the citizenry to forget the lost/stolen/wasted, half a billion tax dollars for the Solyndra pay-for-play scandal, just like they are stonewalling Congressional investigations, lying and trying to cover up the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal that got Brian Terry and thousands of other folks murdered by assault weapons sold by our very own government!

What is also a semi-hidden mind-massage that is being sent to Congress by this report, is that big government needs to get bigger.  Again this is in reference to The Hill article that states: “The report calls on the department to name a “Chief Risk Officer” who would head up a “Risk Management unit” charged with monitoring the loans.” A New Chief officer is now needed to head up a new risk management unit, all on the taxpayer dime because the current incompetents could not properly do their jobs in protecting the people from the taxpayer abuse described above.  Here is a serious hat tip: If the DOE is so incompetent that it can not properly protect the taxpayer from fraud and abuse, while doling out hundreds of billions of tax dollars, then abolish the whole frigging department immediately!

In summary, the recently-released so-called “W/H independent, outsider report is a bunch of bunk put out to allow the current administration to continue using the DOE green energy loan program as a reelect Barack Obama campaign and democrats slush fund, period. Let’s hope Congress is listening to this and takes action to stop any further green energy funding fraud that is designed to reelect Barack Obama and company. That must include no tax dollars to fund the new DOE loans Chief Risk Officer and his bureaucratic big government unit that this propaganda piece posing as an “independent report” is plotting towards starting.

 

 

 

Obama's Failed "Green Energy" Policy

Energy Policy

How much more proof does President Obama need that his “green jihad” is a failure? The greatest problem is that it has failed on two fronts. First, he and his administration have subsidized and/or granted loan guarantees to green energy projects regardless of feasibility. Second, he has all but shut down fossil energy production and exploration.

Green Energy

Through its Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program, it has backed loans for “green energy” projects for $35.9 billion of taxpayer dollars. Obama’s DOE has a less than stellar record so far. And much of the “stimulus” money earmarked for green energy projects went to companies outside the U.S.

So the question is, “Why does Obama continue, through the DOE, to hand out loan guarantees?” Well, as DJ Redman, in his article about the Federal Financing Bank (FFB), says, “…politicians are stuffing their campaign coffers, crony-capitalists, union bed-pals, friends, and relatives wallets, through mafia-style influence peddling.” And from this source (also provided by DJ Redman), we find that the FFB is giving out billions of dollars in loans to White House pet projects often at interest rates below 1%. So green energy projects are nothing more than for recipients to have money to contribute to favorite politicians. From this source, we find that the Obama administration was motivated by politics in its decisions on green energy loans, and that many of the loan recipients were donors or bundlers for Obama and Democrats. Peter Schweizer, author of the book, Throw Them All Out, wrote that at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers took money from administration loan programs. Schweizer said that he believes that many of those who were chosen to receive loan guarantees, were picked almost solely for their success in raising money for the Obama campaign. There can be little doubt that DJ Redman is correct.

Fossil Energy

Two recent incidences characterize Obama’s fossil energy policy: the Keystone XL Pipeline (non)decision and the canceling of a major mineral lease in the Wayne (Ohio) National Forest (WNF).

This source provides information about the Keystone XL Pipeline, and this source provides information about Obama “passing the buck” on the pipeline decision. Ultimately the oil will be sold to China, who is investing heavily in the Canada oil production industry. The green energy environmentalists care nothing for inexpensive American energy, American jobs, or American national security.

President Obama’s Department of Agriculture (DOA) has delayed shale gas drilling in Ohio for up to six months by cancelling a 2006 mineral lease auction for WNF. The cancellation was taken in deference to environmentalists on the pretext of studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The WNF study, the DOA says, “will focus solely on how it could affect forest land and not how it could affect groundwater.”

Obama made this decision in spite of the fact that it will delay 200,000 jobs, and that WNF already has about 1,300 oil and natural gas wells. One suspects that Obama took this action out of anger at Ohio. This cancellation comes just days after Ohio citizens voted to reject key provisions of Obamacare.

Foreign Policy

His foreign policy closely follows his energy policy. It can be described in one sentence: punish your friends (Canada, Israel, Poland, Mexico, etc.) and reward your enemies (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.). And he particularly “has it in” for Canada, starting (in 2009) a trade war.

But that’s just my opinion.

Compared to the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant, Soyndra's Loan Was "Small Potatoes"


The Solyndra loan represents just over 1 percent of the $39 billion in loans generated by the Department of Energy (DOE) loan program. But that program – originally put in place by the Bush administration in 2005, and expanded as part of the 2009 stimulus act – has targeted dozens of companies across a wide swath of industries, including wind, geothermal and solar power, nuclear generation, energy efficiency projects, biofuels, and advanced vehicles. The DOE loan program specifically mentions the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant. President Obama and DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced the award of the conditional loan guarantees to Georgia Power on February 16, 2010.

So we turn our attention to the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant, and to the exposure of taxpayers brought on by the DOE. It turns out that DOE lent the owners of the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant (Southern Company, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities) $8.33 billion, about 15 times the amount lent to Solyndra, to expand (build two new units) at Vogtle. The additions of units 3 and 4 are expected to produce approximately 3,500 jobs during construction and 800 permanent jobs once the units begin operation.

Now we learn that after more than a year and a half of stonewalling by DOE, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) continues to press ahead with its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation so that U.S. taxpayers can learn the full extent of the risks to which they are exposed in the massive commitment of $8.33 billion in conditional federal loan guarantees to Southern Company and their utility partners. It appears that the power companies had to put up almost no money, paying a credit subsidy fee of as little as 0.5 or 1.5 percent of the total loan guarantee. Further, this loan is an expensive gamble on a technology with a long history of bankrupting utilities and soaking ratepayers. There is an extremely high risk that taxpayers will be on the hook if the Vogtle loan guarantee proceeds. The loan guarantee is an up-front bailout that will enable Southern Company to make an uneconomic investment.

Private lenders declined to finance new reactors because of the substantial risk that the investment will fail. In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the chance of a loan for new nuclear reactor construction resulting in default would be “very high – well over 50 percent.” The Obama administration’s proposed loan guarantee would transfer this risk onto American taxpayers, who would pay up to $8.33 billion in the event that Southern Company and its partners run into trouble. The original two reactors at the plant took almost 15 years to build and came in 1,200 percent over budget. Southern Company shareholders had to endure $1 billion in losses. The design of the new reactor has not been finalized, and is still undergoing review at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As a result, Southern Company’s cost estimates for the two new reactors are speculative.

The DOE loan guarantees are expected to save Georgia Power’s customers millions in interest costs annually over the expected life of any guaranteed borrowings. So that means that all of us non-Georgia Power customers must participate whether we want to or not. Sounds like a subsidy to me.

BTW, the intent of this article is NOT to debate the pros and cons of nuclear energy. Its only intent is to document the risk exposure that Obama and the DOE have forced upon taxpayers.

But that’s just my opinion.

The Department of Energy's and Obama's Record

The Solyndra Scandal

The Solyndra Scandal just won’t go away, much to President Obama’s chagrin. And new revelations are coming out almost daily.

DOE’s Purpose

From the Department of Energy (DOE) itself we get its loan programs purpose: “The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs enable DOE to work with private companies and lenders to mitigate the financing risks associated with building out commercial-scale clean energy projects, thereby encouraging the broader and more rapid growth of the sector.”

Will someone please tell me just what business DOE, or the government, for that matter, has “mitigating financial risk?” I thought that it was the jobs of private sector managers to mitigate financial risk through study, evaluation, and, if no market for the proposed product and/or service existed, turn down the proposal. Was not this country founded on the principle of free enterprise, where people are free to succeed or fail on their own, without government?

DOE’s Record So Far – Projects That Have Received DOE Loans

  • Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant, the nation’s first nuclear power plant in the last three decades, but produces electricity at triple the cost of current rates. And all it cost us taxpayers was $8.33 billion.
  • Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, the world’s largest wind farm. It produces electricity, but not at a cost-effective price.
  • POET’s Project Liberty, a cellulosic ethanol power plant. Yet a cost comparison study between corn based and cellulosic ethanol has found that corn is still the cheapest way to make ethanol. Further, there are still problemswith ethanol.
  • Project Amp is a large rooftop solar project. While solar generated power is falling, it is still higherthan coal or natural gas generated electricity.
  • Agua Calentia, a 290 MW photovoltaic generation facility in Arizona, received a $967 million loan guaranteefrom DOE, despite the fact that solar generated power costs more than coal or natural gas generated power.
  • DOE has given loans for several concentrating solar power (CSP) generation facilities, such as the $1.2 billion loan to SunPower, currently building the California Valley Solar Ranch. 
  • DOE is supporting solar manufacturing plants that will help reduce the cost of solar power, such as Solopower and 1366 Technologies that got $150 million from DOE the day after Solyndra was raided by the FBI. And though not mentioned by name, let’s not forget the most famous solar manufacturer, Solyndra. (BTW, Solopower uses the same technology as Solyndra)

Boy, DOE sure can pick ’em!

Whether He Likes It Or Not, This Is Obama’s DOE and Green Jobs Situation

  • The Obama administration said a $38.6 billion DOE loan guarantee programwould create or save 65,000 jobs. The program has created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount of loan money. As of September, 2011, DOE had dispensed $18.1 billion. Just so you know, that’s $5,105,782 per job.
  • President Obama pledged in 2008, while a presidential candidate, to create five million green jobs over 10 years. That pledge was overly optimistic. A study by the Brookings Institute found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide, while the nationwide unemployment rate is currently over 9 percent, about 13.9 million people.
  • The green jobs and new jobs record is even more depressing when you consider that almost any job can be considered a new green job. For example, anything that helps put America on the path to a cleaner and more efficient future can be considered a green job. That means jobs in the public transit sector (drive an electric motor bus), jobs in green building (janitor in a green building), or jobs in energy efficiency (making light weight, high strength steel) can be considered new green jobs. (Building an SUV? Blue-collar. Building a hybrid? Green-collar) The category can get imprecise. There can be temptation towards green-jobs inflation, because the idea is that environmentalism can actually add green jobs is key to this argument. Obama has said that he wants to create 5 million new green jobs, but it’s impossible to sayhow many of those jobs will be new, and how many will be shifted over from less green industries. 
  • Money to help support the renewable energy industry from the 2009 stimulus bill continues to go overseas. In fact, more than 80 percent of the first $1 billion in grants to wind energy companies went to foreign firms. The largest grant made under the DOE program so far, a $178 million payment, went to Babcock & Brown, a bankrupt Australian company that built a Texas wind farm using turbines made by a Japanese company. All this from a president who chastises companies for out-sourcing.

When government steps in to pick winners and losers based on politics it promotes crony capitalism. A restrained federal government is essential to stopping the crony capitalism that’s ruining our markets.

But that’s just my opinion.

DOE Loan Recipients Submitted False Information

DOE Inspector General Testifies

Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General Gregory Friedman’s testimony on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reinforces Republicans’ claim that Solyndra‘s bankruptcy is proof of how wasteful the Obama administration’s stimulus plan has been.

Friedman testified that investigations involved “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.” The majority of grants and loan guarantees were given to “green” technology programs or research, including those that focused on high risk “energy efficiency and renewable energy” and “environmental management.” Friedman also said that the end of stimulus funding would lead to “significant downsizing of the contractor workforce.” He continued, “The department estimates that with the end of Recovery Act funding, over 4,000 workers at Environmental Management sites … will be displaced by the end of 2011.” Inspector Generals with the Departments of Energy and Labor told the House panel that reports show that billions of dollars in stimulus funding given to the agencies to create green jobs have failed to achieve that goal.

More than a hundred criminal investigations were launched into DOE’s handling of its 4% of the Obama stimulus. Friedman testified, “these involve various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.” Five criminal prosecutions have resulted, and over $2.3 million in stolen “stimulus” money has been recovered. Even when it wasn’t beset by scam artists, the “stimulus” people found themselves so paralyzed by bureaucracy and paperwork that they couldn’t effectively give money away.

Green Job Training

Elliott Lewis, assistant inspector general for the audit office of the Department of Labor, said the agency received $500 million in stimulus funds for its Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for “competitive grants for research, labor exchange and job training projects to prepare workers for careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, the DOE Green Jobs program.”

Weatherization Program

Friedman testified, “Weatherization work was often of poor quality. In a recent audit performed at the state level, 9 of 17 weatherized homes we visited failed inspections because of substandard workmanship.” From this source we learn that in an August, 2011, report, the DOE’s inspector general had found quality to be a common problem in Missouri’s retrofits. And since 2009, when the Recovery Act was passed, the IG had released nearly a dozen audits of the Weatherization Assistance Program. “The IG reports haven’t been pretty,” said Michael Sciortino, a senior analyst with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “The quality of these jobs has been — it needs improvement.”

The weatherization program grew out of the 1970s oil crisis. It sought eligible, low-income Americans and outfitted their homes with the most cost-effective improvements. The program normally received $300 million or $400 million, but under the Recovery Act, it got $5 billion and a goal of retrofitting 600,000 homes. Sciortino said the haste to spend stimulus dollars and create jobs contributed to the quality problems in some states. Loans were not documented properly, money was wasted left and right, and one weatherization recipient “gave preferential treatment to its employees and their relatives for weatherization services over other applicants, thus disadvantaging eligible elderly and handicapped residents.”

Evaluation

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House subcommittee, commented on Freidman’s and Lewis’ testimony. Jordan said, “Mr. Friedman and Mr. Lewis, based on your testimony, it looks like both the weatherization program and the green jobs training program are, I guess, by anyone’s conclusion, just a complete failure.”

But that’s just my opinion.

Dartboard Vetting

If you aren’t furious, you aren’t paying attention. In case you’ve missed it, your money has been the fodder for some of the most poorly vetted investments ever, and not by Wall Street or the banking industry.

Thanks in part to this article by Doug Stewart ( @dmatthewstewart on Twitter) and further conversation on the growing list of failed Green energy investment projects during a recent interview , I have become completely convinced that vetting, if any, for funding potential Green energy products was performed by a few guys eating pizza and throwing darts at applications taped to the wall.

While not the first project to fail miserably, even after an injection of stimulus funding, Solyndra is probably the the poster child for failed vetting and cronyism, that are apparantly the norm for deciding where to spend taxpayer dollars. Add in Shepherds Flat ( which, we don’t even *need* to fund since GE HAS the capital!) , SunPower’s PAC action win , the EPA approved TR Auto Truck Plaza mess, The failed job delivery and inanity of the Fisker Motors investment, the likely march of the Chevy Volt into both fiscal and progressive failure, and the likelihood that Doug is correct about Alstom, and you have a laundry list of failures that exceeds anything that can be pinned on the private sector. Each of these investments inherently contained an easily verifiable history of risk that should have been a red flag for any review panel, if they had bothered to check into them at all ( or hadn’t been told to ignore the flags) I’d be willing to bet that the woodwork is crawling with plenty more evidence of the complete waste of taxpayer money due to non-existent vetting processes.

Johnathan Silver, the Energy Department’s loan program director, has stepped down, most certainly as a sacrifice to the indignant, but there needs to be full on public rage at this outright failure and deception by our government to even attempt responsibility with our economy. Silver’s resignation is an appeasement offering, and I am not appeased. It’s time to take the dartboard away and for us to get more involved in keeping an eye on our money. I have an idea of a replacement past-time..

SunPower – Solyndra squared?

Now Department of Energy Is Going International

How did a company get a $1.2 billion Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico to build the panels for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project in eastern San Luis Obispo County, CA? The $1.2 billion DOE loan guarantee will help San Jose-based SunPower build a 250-megawatt solar plant, the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR). Hours before the DOE 1705 loan program expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011 on Sept. 30, the $1.2 billion in loan guarantees was approved for SunPower. SunPower plans to manufacture its high-efficiency E18 series, E19 series, and E20 series solar panels, and will also produce its SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile system at the Mexicali facility.

In addition to manufacturing solar panel and roof tiles, SunPower builds solar panel ranches, like CVSR, which it then sells off, but retains the services contract. The DOE loan guarantee is earmarked for CVSR, which it has already sold to NRG Solar, but will continue to maintain. According to DOE, CVSR will create 350 construction jobs during the two-year build and 15 permanent jobs. WOW! $1.2 billion for 15 permanent jobs. What will DOE think of next?

SunPower, a failing California company whose current $800 million capitalization is below its $820 million current debt level. And, shareholders and retirement funds are suing it. But not to worry (said very sarcastically). Total, the French oil giant, paid $1.3 billion for 60% of SunPower in June, 2011. Total paid a 50% premium, or $15.26 per share, of Sunpower’s stock share value in April, 2011.

Loan Guarantee, Takeover, and Insider Stock Trading

Consider this: the loan guarantee was announced April 12, 2011, two weeks before Total launched its takeover. The takeover deal, made public April 28, 2011, allowed insider traders to get very liquid. SunPower CEO Tom Werner is typical of an inside trader. On May 24, 2011, he exercised his right to purchase 428,343 shares at $3.30 per share, a $18 discount from the day’s trading range. He sold 478,084 shares June 15, 2011, the day the Total takeover closed, at $23.25 netting him $11,115,453. Not bad for sitting on stock for less than a month.

SunPower Is In Big Trouble

Stoyan Elitzen, in September, 2011, at SeekingAlpha.com, says SunPower as the ninth-most-shorted solar stock traded. Although its stock has recovered from its all-time low of $6.60 per share to trade between $8 and $9 per share, it is far from its all-time high of $133.

An October 4, 2010 stock sell-off, dropping stock prices 12%, was triggered by the company’s Oct. 3 aftermarket statement announcing the company was paying down its $50 million credit line with a consortium of European banks and opening a new $200 million credit line with Deutsche Bank. According to the statement, Dennis V. Arriola, the company’s chief financial officer said the new credit line will improve the company’s ability to operate.

SunPower and its officers are defendants in a shareholder lawsuit, with plaintiffs including the Austin (TX) Police Retirement System, the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System, and other institutional investors for an alleged scheme to deceive the investing public by making false statements contrary to nonpublic information known to the insiders.

Political Pull

Two men with strong SunPower connections are Rep. George R. Miller III, (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and his SunPower lobbyist son, George Miller IV. Miller III is a strong advocate for SunPower, which converted an old Richmond, CA, Ford plant in his district to a panel-manufacturing facility. And SunPower employs George IV, SunPower’s top lobbyist in California. Miller IV was pushing for the $1.2 billion loan guarantee taxpayers are on the hook for now.

Of the $15,650 SunPower donated in 2010 to House and Senate candidates, $14,650 went to Democrats. Top recipients: $4,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D – NV), $3,000 to Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D – AZ) and $2,900 to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – CA). Does anyone see a pattern here?

Another Solyndra?

Another Solyndra? Unless SunPower has an ace up its sleeve, it sure looks like DOE and the WH have again wasted our taxpayer dollars. Only time will tell, and we’ll be watching for an announcement from SunPower.

House Speaker Unveils New American Energy Initiative

Speaker Boehner: Facts Simply Don’t Match Obama Administration Statements on American Energy*

In watching the president’s recent speech last week, several glaring mis-statements should have been obvious to even the most naive Americans in the audience. In what appears to be a response to those statements, Speaker Boehner has come out with a new American Energy Initiative that sounds  good from first glance, but has one glaring problem. In his opening statement we see what that is at the root of the problem that will keep this initiative mired in ineffectiveness,  while possibly exposing Obama’s agenda :

“Rising gas prices are a major burden for American families and small businesses already dealing with a tough economy.  While the Obama Administration claims to be committed to American energy production, the facts and its own actions say otherwise.  Yesterday, the new House majority announced the American Energy Initiative, an ongoing effort to stop Washington policies that are driving up gas prices and expand American energy production.  To address rising gas prices, reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and help create American jobs, we invite President Obama to join us in turning this plan into action.” (emphasis mine)

     While it is commendable to invite the president to join in this initiative, I find myself wondering just what makes Speaker Boehner think the president will do the exact opposite of his past patterns of pushing green energy schemes, no matter the cost to the American taxpayer? Inherent within the Socialist ideology of wealth redistribution comes the fact that Obama wants to crush our domestic  oil industry in order to pursue green energy fantasies that haveproven to be a colossal, expensive failure throughout Europe and other countries. It has also shown to be largely wasteful here in America, in the failed venture of a company making solar panels in California, that threw away $500 million tax dollars… for nothing! ( it went out of business, after that  green fantasy wealth redistribution scam failed, yet still succeeded in dishing out $500 million taxpayers to someone)

The green energy scheme is proven to be a complete failure in a motorcitytimes.com** article that states:

The tiny island of Eigg off the coast of Scotland made a big push for ‘green energy’ recently. They designed their system to provide 95% of the electrical needs for the 87 residents of their island. This should be fairly straightforward, since the residents of the island are not big users of electricity to start with. They only received regular electrical service in February 2008.

The new ‘green energy’ system the residents of Eigg installed was designed to provide a meager 5kW (max.) of power per household.

Right now, however, their award-winning and highly complex eco-energy system, which allows each household access to a maximum of 5kW of energy at a time (enough to power a washing machine, a small heater or a kettle, but not all at once), is lying largely idle.

So the wind turbines are still and silent. The hydro turbines in the rivers and dams are quiet. And toasted teacakes and hot tea are off the menu at the Eigg Tearooms.

So what on earth’s going on? Have the Eigg eco-innovators been victims of some act of jealous vandalism? Has their award- winning electricity system blown a fuse?

Er, no. It turns out that when the good people of Eigg put their faith in strong winds and pounding rain to provide all their electricity needs, they overlooked one possibility – a spell of lovely weather.

Go figure, no rain or wind and the solar panels are not cutting it. Of course this is not a big deal to the residents of Eigg, but imagine how chaotic this would be in a large US City.

We’ve never taken electricity for granted,’ says Maggie, 61, has lived on Eigg for 34 years and has a daughter and granddaughter living nearby.

‘Until a couple of years ago, I was supplied by a tiny hydroelectric generator that produced a maximum of 1kW of power. Which powered my lights, TV and computer, but not a washing machine, electric kettle, toaster or anything like that. And I was one of the lucky ones.’

A few of her neighbours had no running water and others relied on their own generator which had to be turned on every morning by hand.

‘So if you got up for a pee in the middle of the night, you had to take a torch with you or fumble about in the dark,’ she adds.

‘And the noise was terrible. If you walked round in the evening, you’d hear a terrible thumping of generators.

If green energy can’t reliably provide power for 87 residents (who are not big consumers of electricity) how do supporters of ‘green energy’ propose we are going to power large US cities using windmills and solar panels?

Speaker Boehner has the right idea about the necessity of  increasing our domestic oil and gas production to offset the dependency of foreign oil in America today, and one other notable person weighed in on this ridiculous situation recently. Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that delays in offshore oil and gas drilling permits are “ridiculous” at a time when the economy is still rebuilding, according to attendees at the IHS CERAWeek conference.

     President also made other statements in his speech last week that a common sense American must call out right here and now. Obama claims that “people across America are driving cars that get 50 miles per gallon of gasoline.”  There is no such car, period. While the Toyota Prius boasts of a possible 50 mpg highway, this is due to the combination of gas and electric usage.*** That is NOT a true 50 mpg. The president’s statement is misleading, to say the least. Next up in 2011 best gas mileage cars is a Honda, followed by a Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Ford is not owned by our government or their Union pals either. The fusion gets 41 mpg highway. The government motors humongous failure the Chevy Volt didn’t even make the list, probably due to the fact that as of last month that lovely government experiment and taxpayer funded boondoggle was failing to be able to deliver on the meager orders for the Volt they had already received. Missed that little fact didn’t you Mister President?

     Obama also mislead the people on our domestic oil and gas production statistics today. Contrary to his statements that we are producing more oil and gas than ever before , two facts still loom: First, he has used the accident in the gulf to set oil exploration back a decade through exploration permit denials and over-regulation. Long term this will crush the oil industry and make us more dependant on foreign oil than ever before. Secondly, the facts on our oil production being more than ever today are a reflection on past administration’s policies, not Obama’s. To see what Obama has really done in in the short-term, please see these charts from freerepublic.com**** By 2012 we are projected to lose 450,000 barrels of oil production a day from Obama’s drilling moratorium just from the drilling moratorium in the gulf.

    I see this new energy initiative in a different light than what it appears on the surface to be here. I believe Speaker Boehner is simply proving the point that the president has no inclination of increasing our domestic oil and gas production because that simply does not fit his wealth redistribution scheme. Obama can’t force his will on big oil and gas companies, can’t dictate whom they will hire, and can’t dictate how they will run their operations. They are a part of our capitalistic society that Obama and the left deem evil on a constant basis. If Obama and company can crush the oil and gas industry through green energy schemes run by the government, they can then take over the entire industry. To do that they must destroy the big oil and gas companies, period. When President Obama refuses to join in with Boehner’s American Energy Initiative and contribute towards ramping up our domestic energy production immediately, it will prove fatal for the Obama reelection campaign in 2012, as it will expose Obama’s leftist ideology of the big government takeover of our energy sector through his green energy schemes, while citizens are paying $4,$5 and even $6 dollars a gallon for gasoline.

Obama will not participate in this initiative in a meaningful manner, mark my words. His leftist, green fantasy base will make sure of that, by the time the 2012 elections roll around. Thank you, Speaker Boehner for helping expose Obama and his Socialistic agenda once again.

Sources:
http://www.speaker.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=228942
** http://motorcitytimes.com/mct/2010/07/green-energy-failure-windmills-solar-panels-and-hydro-project-cant-reliably-provide-power-for-87-people/
*** http://www.carsdirect.com/car-buying/2011-car-models-with-the-best-fuel-economy-mileage 
**** http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2687205/posts