Authors: Aaron Klein,Brenda J. Elliott
Easily overlooked in the morass of Obama's second-term drive for a radical increase in federal spending on “clean energy” is not simply the utter incompetence of some of the major recipients of “green stimulus” funds but also the rank corruption intrinsic to those hand-outs, as Washington cronyism is routinely ignored by the mainstream news media.
For starters there's BrightSource Energy, a solar energy company attempting to build the world's largest solar power plant amid concerns such a venture might be too risky an investment for the federal government. So BrightSource received a $1.37 billion federal loan guarantee, the largest the Department of Energy has ever given for a solar power project.
The loan guarantee is for the construction of a gigantic California desert solar plant known as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, featuring mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a massive central tower that is thereby heated to produce steam, spinning turbines that, in turn, produce electricity.
BrightSource projects it will produce enough power to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Californians. During a national address last October, Obama mentioned the possible benefits of BrightSource Energy's “revolutionary new type of solar power plant.” But some, including advocates for green power, have questioned whether the massive solar plant will actually work. The
quoted Michael Boyd, president of the nonprofit Californians for Renewable Energy, as saying there is “no evidence” BrightSource's project will succeed. Boyd also complained that most of the equipment used at the plant would be manufactured in China and Germany. “Stimulus money isn't going to jobs here in the U.S. It's going to jobs overseas,” he said. Boyd's group in 2010 reportedly filed an administrative complaint seeking to block the U.S. loan guarantee, worrying
that the solar project “could have the unintended consequences of killing innovation if these projects fail.” But in a recent briefing, BrightSource CEO John Woolard exuded confidence his plant would significantly lower energy costs.
Besides the question of risk, a giant elephant in the room has received nearly zero media attention. BrightSource's chairman at the time of the federal loan guarantee was John Bryson, who stepped down from the energy company before being sworn in on October 21, 2011, as the thirty-seventh secretary of the Department of Commerce.
In other words, the former employer of Obama's commerce secretary received the Energy Department's $1.4 billion loan guarantee. Of note is that Bryson also cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental activist group belonging to the controversial Apollo Alliance, which helped draft the “green” portions of Obama's 2009 stimulus, the very legislation that underwrote BrightSource's loan.
Bryson is not the exception. His inside deal should have been one of the biggest scandals of the Obama administration. Instead it is exclusive to this book, as the “watchdog” (actually lapdog) news media remain mysteriously uninterested in probing corruption within the monstrous expansion of government under Obama.
Here's another Obama crony we found playing a key role in developing the energy provisions of the stimulus bill while occupying the boards of several companies recently receiving Federal funds, including hundreds of millions in “stimulus” money. T. J. Glauthier served on Obama's 2008 White House Transition Team. He is widely credited with helping to craft the energy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka the “stimulus.” In addition to serving on the boards of multiple major energy companies, Glauthier previously held two presidential appointments during the Clinton administration. He was the Energy Department's deputy secretary and chief operating officer, its second-highest-ranking official. Earlier, he served in the White House for five years as the associate director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science in the Office of Management and Budget. Glauthier is tied to several energy companies that benefited from the “stimulus” bill he helped to write.
One such company investigated by these authors is GridPoint Inc, where
Glauthier was appointed to the board in March 2008.
GridPoint provides utilities software solutions for electrical grid management and electric power demand and supply balancing. The “stimulus” provides a whopping $4.5 billion for so-called smart grid projects, and GridPoint got paid from scores of smart grid deals funded by the “stimulus.” The company partnered with the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), Nissan, the Idaho National Laboratory, and others in a project to deploy electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging infrastructure in five states.
The Energy Department had awarded eTec almost $100 million in “stimulus” funds to support the project. GridPoint's role in the eTec project was to supply smart charging and data logging capability to utilities located in strategic markets of eTec's program in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.
GridPoint also benefited from “stimulus” funds when it recently provided home energy management, load management, and electric vehicle management software solutions for a KCP&L's Green Impact Zone SmartGrid Demonstration in Kansas City, Mo.
Additionally, GridPoint helped the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD, to manage power from its customers' rooftop solar panels.
SMUD had won $127.5 million in “stimulus” funds from the Department of Energy to carry out the project, which also includes deploying 600,000 smart meters in its service territory. Again, in early 2009, the Energy Department awarded Argonne National Laboratory nearly $2.7 million in “stimulus” funding for three solar energyârelated research projects. Argonne reportedly shared another $5 million in “stimulus” funding for projects with GridPoint and other companies and the University of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.
Besides benefiting from “stimulus” grants, GridPoint, in 2010, won a separate $28 million contract with the U.S. Postal Service to install energy management systems in selected post office locations across the U.S.
At the same time, Gridpoint's founder, Peter L. Corsell, contributed the $50,000 maximum donation allowable to Obama's inauguration.
Glauthier, meanwhile, came under some fire in the conservative blogosphere after Fox News reported the U.S. Navy has purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel for about $16 a gallon, or about four times the price of its standard marine fuel, JP-5, which has been going for under $4 a gallon.
reported Glauthier is a “strategic advisor” to Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy.
noted Solazyme received a $21.8 million grant from the 2009 stimulus package. Also, writing at BigGovernment, Whitney Pitcher found that prior to serving as advisor to Solazyme and after his time as part of Obama's transition team, Glauthier served on the advisory board of SunRun, a solar financing company. In October of 2010, just a few short months after Glauthier joined SunRun's advisory board, SunRun secured a $6.73 million grant from this Treasury Department stimulus program.
The company was the ninth largest recipient of such programs through December 2010.
We've mentioned John Podesta and his CAP several times in this chapter. It bears noting that Podesta's sister-in-law served as the lobbyist for a wind power firm recently awarded a $135.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company is Brookfield Asset Management. It has a board of nine directors, including New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's longtime girlfriend.
The grant was finalized to build the 99-megawatt Granite Reliable wind project in New Hampshire's Coos County, making it the state's largest wind plant. Seventy-five percent of the new wind project is owned by BAIF Granite Holdings, which was created earlier this year by Brookfield Renewable Power, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management of New York.
Since 2009, Brookfield has been represented by the lobbying firm of Heather Podesta and Partners, LLC.
Podesta, a top financial bundler for Democrat politicians, is wife of lobbyist and art collector Tony Podesta, who is John's brother. Heather Podesta and her husband, in July 2011, topped the FEC's lobbyist bundler database, raising more money by far in the six prior months than any other lobbyists. Their fundraising was largely for Democrats.
According to White House visitor logs, Heather Podesta visited the White House eight times in Obama's first six months alone.
Brookfield, meanwhile, is a Toronto-based asset management company that manages a global portfolio of assets valued at over $120 billion. The firm's assets boast not only renewable power generation but also real state, including some of Manhattan's most famous skyline buildings. Brookfield also happens to own Zuccotti Park, the park “occupied” by Wall Street protesters in the fall of 2011.
A coalition of some of America's largest corporations, and a handful of “environmental” groups, issued the
Blueprint for Legislative Action
in January 2009 to “provide decision makers in the Administration and Congress with a framework for legislation.” The
, according to USCAP, was to serve as a guide for “the development of legislation in the 111th Congress that can become law.”
In summary, the
blandly called for: an “increase [in] the overall energy efficiency of our Economy”; to “utilize responsibly our domestic supplies of coal, oil and natural gas”; to “develop and export the transportation technologies and fuels of the future”; and to “ensure the nation has an adequate supply of electricity produced from low-carbon resources, including wind, solar, next generation nuclear technology, and coal with carbon capture and sequestration.”
Two years earlier, in January 2007, USCAP called for “prompt enactment of national legislation in the United States to slow, stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the shortest time reasonably achievable.”
GHG may have been the cover story, but history has shown us that some USCAP membersâAIG, BP, Caterpiller Inc., Conoco-Phillips, Exelon, Duke Energy, Ford Motor Company, GM, and GEâhad or still have a very different, less-earth-friendly agenda.
In fall 2008, in the waning days of the Bush presidency, insurance giant AIG received the largest corporate bailout in historyâ$182 billion in government funds. The leftist
magazine later observed that this should have been seen as “the Rosetta Stone for understanding the financial crisis and its costly aftermath.” Why? While the financial dealings were “monstrously complicated,” William Greider wrote, the “larger catastrophe” was because AIG's “collapse and subsequent rescue involved nearly all the critical elements, including delusion and deception.”
Hold that thought.
Next on the list is Exelon, well connected to both Barack Obama and his first chief of staff, and current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel. In late 1998, when Emanuel left the Clinton White House, he joined the boutique investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella & Company. The following
year, Emanuel “landed an advisory role for Wasserstein in the $8.2 billion merger of two utility companies, Unicom, the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, [once headed by Tom Ayers, father of Weatherman Bill Ayers,] and Peco Energy, to create Exelon, now one of the nation's largest power companies.” John W. Rowe, then Unicom CEO, assumed the same position at Exelon. Rowe is one of Obama's longest and most generous bundler backers.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, said, “Barack has one of his biggest supporters in terms of funding, the Exelon Corporation, which has spent millions of dollars trying to make Yucca Mountain the waste depository.” PolitiFact.com confirmed the veracity of her statement.
According to the company's website, Exelon Nuclear “represents approximately 20% of the U.S. nuclear industry's power capacity with 10 power plants and 17 reactorsâlocated in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jerseyâand produces enough electricity to power 17 million average American homes annually. Approximately 93% of Exelon's total electricity generation is nuclear power.”
That's a lot of power and “investment” to protect.
Besides three nuclear power plants, two in South Carolina and one in North Carolina, Duke Energy operates fourteen coal-fired energy plants, as well as several traditional hydro plants, oil- and gas-fired plants, and pumped-storage hydro plants.
Duke has already stepped up in this election cycle to subsidize the Democratic National Convention to the tune of a $10 million line of credit. Duke's CEO, Jim Rogers, has given more than $30,000 towards Obama's reelection and has contributed more than $210,000 to Democrats since 2008. Duke “pocketed $230 million in taxpayer money from Obama's stimulus” for so-called “green energy” projects and has “lobbied for and stands to profit from the sort of cap-and-trade policies President Obama supports, as well as other Obama green-energy subsidies.”