Harry Reid's Solyndra
Here we go again: another gigantic taxpayer-funded loser, courtesy of President Obama's administration -- and this one seems to have helped friends of Harry Reid.
Eric Lipton and Clifford Kraus of the New York Times cover the tale:
In a remote desert spot in northern Nevada, there is a geothermal plant run by a politically connected clean energy start-up that has relied heavily on an Obama administration loan guarantee and is now facing financial turmoil.
The company is Nevada Geothermal Power, which like Solyndra, the now-famous California solar company, is struggling with debt after encountering problems at its only operating plant.
After a series of technical missteps that are draining Nevada Geothermal's cash reserves, its own auditor concluded in a filing released last week that there was "significant doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern."
It is a description that echoes the warning issued in 2010 by auditors hired by Solyndra, which benefited from the same Energy Department loan guarantee before its collapse in August caused the Obama administration great embarrassment.
This boondoggle got a loan guarantee of $79 million plus an outright grant (gift) of $66 million.
Who went to bat for the company?
Is it purely coincidental that the plant is based in Nevada, home state of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid?
The Times notes he has been a strong proponent of geothermal power:
Mr. Reid has taken the nascent geothermal industry under his wing, pressuring the Department of Interior to move more quickly on applications to build clean energy projects on federally owned land and urging other member of Congress to expand federal tax incentives to help build geothermal plants, benefits that Nevada Geothermal has taken advantage of.
"This project is exactly the type of initiative we need to ensure Nevada creates good-paying jobs," Mr. Reid said in a statement in April 2010, after he visited the company's Nevada plant. That was two months before the project even got conditional approval for the Energy Department loan guarantee.
During the tour, Mr. Reid had a chance to see electric generation equipment installed by a company called Ormat Technology, which is a Nevada Geothermal partner. Ormat's lobbyist in Washington, Kai Anderson, and one of the company's top executives, Paul Thomsen, are former aides to Mr. Reid.
Just last month, again with Mr. Reid's support, Ormat secured its own Energy Department loan guarantee, worth $350 million, to help support three other Nevada geothermal projects that are expected to produce 113 megawatts of power.
These projects are redolent of earmarks -- a perk that powerful politicians use to bring back the bacon to their home states and help bolster their reelection prospects. Reid is also a beneficiary of at least $43,000 worth of campaign contributions from the geothermal industry since 2009.
Nevada Geothermal has been a disaster beset by technical and mechanical problems. The plant has been unable to come near to meeting its contract to supply electricity to Nevada utilities, or pay off its loans and provide continued capital to keep operating. In a word, it is running out of steam fast.
Yet, again ,despite knowing of these problems the Department of Energy agreed in September, 210, to partly guarantee a second major loan to the company worth almost $100 million.
The Department of Energy rushed out the last of the last of these loan guarantees last Friday in order to get the money out the door. Grand total for this year just in loan guarantees: $16 billion. They sent the money flowing on Friday despite all the evidence these green schemes are failing left and right and despite the scandals emerging that many of these projects have ties to donors to Democrats (especially to Barack Obama) or have relatives in high places (such as Nancy Pelosi).
Insanity -- doing the same wrong thing over and over. That should be the epitaph of the Obama Presidency.