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Bundler of Sunshine

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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.

Source

If Obama Loses, It Will Be Because Of This One Chart

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James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute

In his State of the Union response the other night, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels neatly summed up Mitt Romney’s (who has a roughly 90 percent chance of being the GOP nominee according to Intrade) economic case against President Barack Obama: “The president did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight, but he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse.”

In other words, the Obama Recovery stinks. Even if today’s GDP report — for the fourth quarter of 2011 — shows 3 percent growth or better, it would be just the fourth time that has happened since the economy began turning up in June 2009: 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2010, and 3.8 percent in the second quarter of 2010. But no 3 percent-plus quarters since then.

The first nine quarters of the Reagan Recovery, by contrast, looked like this:  5.1 percent, 9.3 percent, 8.1 percent, 8.5 percent, 8.0 percent,  7.1 percent, 3.9 percent, 3.3 percent, 3.8, percent, 3.4 percent. In fact, the Reagan Boom went from the first quarter of 1983 until the second quarter of 1986 without notching a sub-3 percent GDP quarter.

So while the Reagan Recovery quickly made up for lost years of growth, not so much for the Obama Recovery, as this chart in today’s Wall Street Journal makes clear:

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And few economists are expecting the Obama Recovery to take off anytime soon. The IMF predicts just 1.8 percent growth for 2012 (and that’s assuming no EU sovereign debt meltdown). And the Federal Reserve sees growth in the 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent range with unemployment around 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent. Ugh!

The WSJ offers two explanations for the anemic rebound:

Economists say the nature of the recession helps explain the slow recovery. Aftershocks from the financial crisis have left banks reluctant to lend, making it hard for companies, and especially start-ups, to get access to capital. The housing market, which has historically helped lead the economy out of recession, remains deeply depressed.

Many business leaders say they are also being held back by policy-related uncertainty, everything from the threat of new regulations and higher taxes to the fear that political gridlock could hamper the government’s ability to respond to a new crisis. Recent economic research has given some weight to those complaints. A study by a trio of academic economists found that policy uncertainty has risen in recent years, and that periods of uncertainty have in the past corresponded with rising unemployment and slowing growth.

Whichever explanation holds more weight with voters may go a long way toward deciding who’ll be America’s next president.

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