Category Archives: Wind
May 22, 2012 5:00 am BY: Patrick Howley
Obama bundler’s husband has received more than a billion in DOE solar loans
New disclosures show that one of President Obama’s bundlers is the wife of an executive at an energy company that received a more-than-$1.2 billion Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee for a solar power plant.
Arvia Few is a bundler for the Obama re-election campaign who has promised to raise between $50,000 and $100,000. She began bundling for Obama in the first quarter of 2012. Her husband, Jason Few, is an executive at a company that has benefited handsomely from the Obama administration’s clean energy spending, records show.
The U.S. Department of Energy granted NRG Solar a $1.237-billion loan in September 2011 to help build NRG’s California Valley Solar Ranch, which is described as “a 250 MW alternating current PV solar generating facility” by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Few became senior vice president of Houston-based Reliant Energy in 2008. He was named President of Reliant in May 2009 when NRG Energy acquired Reliant for $287.5 million. He currently serves as executive vice president and chief customer officer of NRG Energy.
“This investment and its outcome represent a pattern in which the Obama Department of Energy took promises of technological development with an undue amount of credence,” says energy expert Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“On any given day, there are hucksters who say they can power the world. Unfortunately, there was also an administration that wanted to believe their claims,” Green said. “One has to assume that the administration was more likely to believe the people it knew.”
Other financial interests tied to the Obama administration have also invested in NRG Solar.
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy holds a stake in another NRG project that received a $967 million Department of Energy loan guarantee.
DOE announced a $967 million loan guarantee to NRG in August 2011 for its $1.8 billion Agua Caliente Solar Project. Agua Caliente will be one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the world upon its completion in 2014.
NRG acquired the Agua Caliente Solar Project from First Solar on August 5, 2011, as DOE announced the loan.
Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy bought a 49 percent stake in NRG’s Agua Caliente project in December 2011.
The multiple DOE loans did not stop NRG Energy from reporting a first-quarter 2012 loss of $206 million.
Even so, NRG has recently expanded its operations.
Since acquiring Reliant in May 2009, NRG Energy has also acquired the offshore wind development company Bluewater Wind, thermal energy company Northwind Phoenix, Texas-based South Trent Wind Farm, Green Mountain Energy Company, Texas-based Cottonwood Generating Station, and Energy Plus Holdings.
In November 2011, NRG Solar further expanded by acquiring the San Francisco-based developer Solar Power Partners.
“When you talk to a lot of people on the environmental left, there’s a deep desire to believe that wind and solar power can help us replace fossil fuels,” Green said. “It’s a naiveté that permeated the administration.”
Jason Few was named to TheGrio’s 100 list honoring “history-makers in the making” in February 2011 despite NRG’s multi-million dollar losses. Few was “turning a profit by greening Texas,” theGrio wrote. The article did not mention the Department of Energy loan program and its relationship with NRG Energy.
Jason Few and NRG Energy did not return calls for comment.
- First Solar CEO Admits the Majority of Jobs, Created by $3.1 Billion Taxpayer-Backed DOE Loan, Were Overseas (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Republicans Grill BrightSource CEO Over Energy Loans (theepochtimes.com)
As reported by the Associated Press, the potential of the project, aimed at developing wind turbines in the U.S., situated off the Virginia cost and encompassing circa 113,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean, has been recognized by numerous investors including European ones.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in charge of supervising offshore wind development, published the names of companies that submitted the necessary documentation in order to be eligible for project implementation, those being:
Arcadia Offshore Virginia LLC, New Jersey based branch of Arcadia Windpower, Cirrus Wind Energy Inc., based in Nevada; enXco Development Corp., based in California; Fishermen’s Energy LLC, based in New Jersey; Iberdrola Renewables Inc., an American subsidiary of a Spanish company with offices on the West and East coasts; Orisol Energy US Inc., another Spanish offshoot with American offices in Michigan; Apex Virginia; and Dominion Resources.
The paperwork will be scrutinized by the government regulators, in order to determine what company meets the technical and economic prerequisites in order to be able to push forward with the project implementation.
On March 27, Virginia regulators gave their consent to what might be the first offshore wind turbine built in the United States. Even though the prototype turbine still awaits approval of the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers, it is said that it will be located in Chesapeake Bay and be able to meet the power needs of 1,250 households. The capacity of the wind turbine will equal to 5 megawatts of electricity and it should be ready for production by the end of 2013.
- Virginia Offshore Wind Turbine (jeceblog.com)
- Virginia Offshore Wind Turbine Positioned to be First in U.S. (renewableenergyworld.com)
- Virginia Approves First Offshore Wind-Energy Turbine For US Waters (hardware.slashdot.org)
- Dominion interested in Va offshore wind generation (mysanantonio.com)
Siemens AG (SIE) has revealed its intention to introduce technology in 2015 that will enable conversion of wind-turbine electricity into gas, providing wind farms with an alternative revenue stream when the grid is fully charged.
Michael Weinhold, Chief Technology Officer of Siemens’ Energy Businesses, says the electrolyser, a soccer-field sized plant that converts power into storable hydrogen, is in the testing phase, reports Bloomberg. It offers a promising capacity necessary for overcoming the challenge of how to harness fluctuating electricity output from wind farms, especially at night when demand is the lowest.
Munich-based Siemens allocates 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on annual bases to devising new technology for the energy industry. Wind farms have faced hardship in commercial terms because power cannot be stored on a large scale, however the converted hydrogen can be stored by feeding it into the gas grid.
“The main problem today is the mismatch of renewable power generation and demand,” Weinhold said in an interview. “If we can offer solutions to solve that, we have a business case.”