published Friday, September 30th, 2011

More big loans for solar energy?

Just weeks after a subsidized solar panel manufacturer went bankrupt -- costing taxpayers half a billion dollars -- the Obama administration has approved huge, taxpayer-backed loans for two new solar power projects.

Does that seem wise to you?

You may recall the recent bankruptcy of the California company Solyndra Inc. The American people were stuck with the bill for Solyndra's gigantic loan, and more than 1,000 employees at the company lost their jobs.

But now the U.S. Department of Energy has approved still more loans for additional solar projects:

• Tonopah Solar Energy will get a shocking $737 million loan guarantee to build a solar tower in Nevada.

• Mesquite Solar 1 will get a $337 million loan guarantee to develop a solar plant outside Phoenix.

Of course, we are not saying that these latest projects will meet the same unhappy fate as Solyndra. (At least we hope they don't.)

But even if they are much sounder prospects financially than Solyndra was, it is just not federal government business to be subsidizing impractical alternative energy projects -- or more traditional energy sources such as oil and natural gas.

Tom Schatz, president of the watchdog organization Citizens Against Government Waste, appropriately called for a review of energy subsidies that can leave taxpayers holding the bag if the subsidized projects fail.

"Candidly, it might be time for the federal government to rethink the whole idea of loan programs," he told The Associated Press.

In fact, that sort of review is long overdue.

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ArnoldZiffel said...

Incompetance and corruption! That's what it's called. Nancy Pelosi's brother in law likes it though!

September 30, 2011 at 4:08 a.m.

Well, it's good that this side of the paper finally noticed that the loan guarantee program that was started as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, that's during the Bush Administration for those without a calendar, isn't just about one single company.

If you want to know why it's part of the energy policy of the United States, it's because certain people in the government are at least savvy enough to know that the environment and the generation of electrical power are essential parts of public welfare and national security. Thus the government is under an obligation to have a plan for the future.

Sometimes they may be wrong with their plans, and sure, Solyndra failed, but not because of anything they did wrong in terms of misconduct or malfeasance. What happened was China subsidized their own solar industry to the point where Solyndra's model wasn't viable. Why did the Chinese do this? Well, I doubt they specifically cared about one small company, but they are able to recognize that the industry is one of the future, and they have a national interest in fostering it. Accordingly, so does the US.

This may be hard for the right-side of the paper to realize themselves, but I suspect that if it were in the form of a payout to a defense contractor for a solar energy plant, they wouldn't bat an eye, even if it were ten times the cost.

And if you're really opposed to governments subsidizing local industry, I want to see your editorials against the local VW plant Amazon and the TVA, not to mention all the defense spending that keeps some manufacturers in business far exceeding the costs of this whole program, let alone the few that turned out to be duds.

September 30, 2011 at 11:01 a.m.
nucanuck said...

If the Germans only knew what this NFP editorialist knows, they would stop their rapid build up of solar and wind power.

September 30, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
conservative said...

bulb- You conveniently failed to mention that the Bush administration did NOT OK the loan guarantee to Solandra nor did the Bush administration push for the loan loan guarantee. This growing scandal is on Oblamer and it's not going away. Google "More Green For Donor Energy" for a taste of how it's going to get worse. This article appeared in Investors Business Daily yesterday. Do some research before you embarrass yourself.

September 30, 2011 at 7:54 p.m.

It's the overall program we're talking about here, not just the one example. That's why I said it's good that they noticed that it isn't just one company. But Solyndra? Nope, the Bush administration didn't oppose it, they supported it, and they would have approved it, except for the intervening election. Even such conservative stalwarts as the Walton family and the WSJ liked them. What happened? Nothing Solyndra did that was unlawful. As I said, because Chinese subsidies of their own industries dropped prices on polysilicon panels, which meant that their process just wasn't as desirable.

So no, your fetish for blaming Obama for everything won't embarass anybody but yourself. Well, actually, it won't embarass you because you seem to be rather shameless. That is not, however, a virtue.

September 30, 2011 at 9:44 p.m.
Brandon7 said...

Well, I think Obama does his best trying to revive solar energy industry, as it may become the only source of power already in the next century. Yes, I feel really sorry for the 1000 Solyndra workers who lost their jobs, but they can still use no credit check loans to stay afloat. I’m pretty sure the Government will subsidize more solar projects in the nearest future.

January 11, 2012 at 4:41 a.m.
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