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Category — GE

Energy Loserville: U.S. DOE Picks in an Artificial Industry

“When government undertakes tasks for which it is ill equipped it squanders the authority necessary for carrying out its core responsibilities. Pervasive rent-seeking, bad for our economy and worse for our republic, should be discouraged instead of rewarded. If government becomes integral to securing every advantage and assuaging every grievance, then governance becomes impossible.”

- Richard Voegeli, “Reclaiming Democratic Capitalism,” Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2012, p. 46.

Governments around the world are having buyers’ remorse with their bets that solar and wind could effectively diminish oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. So much cost, so little energy. So much cost, so little reliability, and so much need for backup power.

The story is the same for the U.S. Department of Energy. The Obama administration’s rocky road with green-energy boosterism is no secret. With big names like Solyndra and Solar Trust of America, it’s hard to lose sight of the administration’s funding failures.

But what may come as a surprise is the overall amount of money being thrown away on these green companies that the administration has championed. Of the $10.7 billion in green-energy commitments, detailed below, approximately $3.2 billion is to companies that are in bankruptcy, and another $7.1 billion is committed to teetering firms.

The good news is that private developers are postponing (and probably canceling) projects that even with government subsidies are uneconomic. General Electric Co. just last week halted construction of what would have been the largest solar-panel factory in the U.S. Some 335 workers can now find economic employment.

Here’s the breakdown of the “green” energy carnage to date: [Read more →]

July 9, 2012   9 Comments

Rent Seeking, Crony Capitalism, and U.S. Energy Politics: Who Wins from the Racket?

A calm has descended over the federal government’s initiatives in energy amid the furor over health insurance legislation. The respite is welcome, but the sturm und drang of clashing interests will resume in earnest after Congress’s summer recess. There is too much money on the table–our money–for the favor-seekers to ignore.

A Banana Republic?

Increasingly, it is clear that the initial cap-and-trade legislation was insufficiently opaque. Numerous analyses of Waxman-Markey (HR 2454) on this site and others have shown that the proposed cap-and-trade legislation will cost consumers dearly by raising the prices of electricity and gasoline, while ignoring viable sources of clean energy that have not yet found the key to the federal treasury.

With so much money at stake, each of the contestants (call them rent-seekers, some of them reluctant players in the political capitalism game) will attempt to gather up as much of the pot as possible. The only people not at the table, those of us who will pay for this orgy of confiscation, wonder just what it is that we will receive in return for our cash.

Rent-seeking is defined as follows in Wikipedia: [Read more →]

August 5, 2009   1 Comment