April 19, 2014 by Martin Armstrong
QUESTION: Is it true that nearly 80% of Nevada is still owned by the Federal Government who then pays no tax to the State of Nevada? This seems very strange if true as a backdrop to this entire Bundy affair.
You seem to be the only person to tell the truth without getting crazy.
Thank you so much
REPLY: The truth behind Nevada is of course just a quagmire of politics. Nevada was a key pawn in getting Abraham Lincoln reelected in 1864 during the middle of the Civil War. Back on March 21st, 1864, the US Congress enacted the Nevada Statehood statute that authorized the residents of Nevada Territory to elect representatives to a convention for the purpose of having Nevada join the Union. This is where we find the origin of the fight going on in Nevada that the left-wing TV commenters (pretend-journalists) today call a right-wing uprising that should be put down at all costs. The current land conflict in Nevada extends back to this event in 1864 and how the territory of Nevada became a state in order to push through a political agenda to create a majority vote. I have said numerous times, if you want the truth, just follow the money.
The “law” at the time in 1864 required that for a territory to become a state, the population had to be at least 60,000. At that time, Nevada had only about 40,000 people. So why was Nevada rushed into statehood in violation of the law of the day? When the 1864 Presidential election approached, there were special interests who were seeking to manipulate the elections to ensure Lincoln would win reelection. They needed another Republican congressional delegation that could provide additional votes for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery. Previously, the attempt failed by a very narrow margin that required two-thirds support of both houses of Congress.
The fear rising for the 1864 election was that there might arise three major candidates running. There was Abraham Lincoln of the National Union Party, George B. McClellan of the Democratic Party, and John Charles Frémont (1813–1890) of the Radical Democracy Party. It was actually Frémont who was the first anti-slavery Republican nominee back in the 1940s. During the Civil War, he held a military command and was the first to issue an emancipation edict that freed slaves in his district. Lincoln maybe credited for his stand, but he was a politician first. Lincoln relieved Frémont of his command for insubordination. Therefore, the Radical Democracy Party was the one demanding emancipation of all slaves.
With the Republicans splitting over how far to go with some supporting complete equal rights and others questioning going that far, the Democrats were pounding their chests and hoped to use the split in the Republicans to their advantage. The New York World was a newspaper published in New York City from 1860 until 1931 that was the mouth-piece for the Democrats. From 1883 to 1911 it was under the notorious publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911), who started the Spanish-American war by publishing false information just to sell his newspapers. Nonetheless, it was the New World that was desperately trying to ensure the defeat of Lincoln. It was perhaps their bravado that led to the Republicans state of panic that led to the maneuver to get Nevada into a voting position.
The greatest fear, thanks to the New York World, became what would happen if the vote was fragmented (which we could see in 2016) and no party could achieve a majority of electoral votes. Consequently, the election would then be thrown into the House of Representatives, where each state would have only one vote. Consequently, the Republicans believed they needed Nevada on their side for this would give them an equal vote with every other state despite the tiny amount of people actually living there. Moreover, the Republicans needed two more loyal Unionist votes in the U.S. Senate to also ensure that the Thirteenth Amendment would be passed. Nevada’s entry would secure both the election and the three-fourths majority needed for the Thirteenth Amendment enactment.
The votes at the end of the day demonstrate that they never needed Nevada. Nonetheless, within the provisions of the Statehood Act of March 21, 1864 that brought Nevada into the voting fold, we see the source of the problem today. This Statehood Act retained the ownership of the land as a territory for the federal government. In return for the Statehood that was really against the law, the new state surrendered any right, title, or claim to the unappropriated public lands lying within Nevada. Moreover, this cannot be altered without the consent of the Feds. Hence, the people of Nevada cannot claim any land whatsoever because politicians needed Nevada for the 1864 election but did not want to hand-over anything in return. This was a typical political one-sided deal.
Republican Ronald Reagan had argued for the turnover of the control of such lands to the state and local authorities back in 1980. Clearly, the surrender of all claims to any land for statehood was illegal under the Constitution. This is no different from Russia seizing Crimea. The Supreme Court actually addressed this issue in Pollard’s Lessee v. Hagan, 44 U.S. 212 (1845) when Alabama became a state in 1845. The question presented was concerning a clause where it was stated “that all navigable waters within the said State shall forever remain public highways, free to the citizens of said State, and of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor imposed by said State.” The Supreme Court held that this clause was constitutional because it “conveys no more power over the navigable waters of Alabama to the Government of the United States than it possesses over the navigable waters of other States under the provisions of the Constitution.”
The Pollard decision expressed a statement of constitutional law in dictum making it very clear that the Feds have no claim over the lands in Nevada. The Supreme Court states:
The United States never held any municipal sovereignty, jurisdiction, or right of soil in and to the territory of which Alabama, or any of the new States, were formed, except for temporary purposes, and to execute the trusts created by the acts of the Virginia and Georgia legislatures, and the deeds of cession executed by them to the United States, and the trust created by the treaty of the 30th April, 1803, with the French Republic ceding Louisiana.
So in other words, once a territory becomes a state, the Fed must surrender all claims to the land as if it were still just a possession or territory.
Sorry, but to all the left-wing commentators who call Bundy a tax-cheat and an outlaw, be careful of what you speak for the Supreme Court has made it clear in 1845 that the Constitution forbids the federal rangers to be out there to begin with for the Feds could not retain ownership of the territory and simultaneously grant state sovereignty. At the very minimum, it became state land – not federal.
Cronies tied to at least $10 billion of Obama’s taxpayer funded green-energy spending spree: Energy-sector 2009-Recovery Act advisor and Jobs Council member, billionaire John Doerr’s VC firm Kleiner Perkins –– Al Gore partner, and KPCB collaboration with the London based Generation Investment Management.
January 31, 2013 06:43 By Christine Lakatos
Updated to reflect First Solar addition for $3B
In my first segmentof “Spreading the Wealth to Obama’s Ultra-Rich Jobs
Council Members,” I covered Obama’s Jobs Czar, Jeffrey Immelt and the fact that General Electric, a top 2008 Obama donor, has been making bank off of Obama’s 2009-stimulus package –– GE’s “green tab” exceeds $3 billion in direct (some indirect) taxpayer cash, and counting.
Last July when I chronicled General Electric’s “big green stimulus bucks,” I also revealed the cozy ties and “green alliances” that Immelt has with other Jobs Council members and other high-profile fat cats, including John Doerr. One in particular was formed in 2010 –– the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), which called for “a tripling of U.S. federal energy research budget.” GE joined forces with others that have benefited from Obama’s alternative-energy taxpayer funds, like the Advanced Metering Partners, another Doerr “venture” via Silver Spring Networks, one of Kleiner Perkins shining green companies, which in 2009, cashed in big time when the DOE starting handing out $4 billion in smart grid grants. But that’s just the start…Billionaire John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), along with his “billionaire climate buddy” Al Gore, is considered “a very big-ticket Obama donor” by New York Magazine, who in February 2011 hosted a star-studded billionaire Silicon Valley dinner for the president. Doerr not only sits on the President Obama’s Jobs Council (also from Obama’s 2009 PERAB), but early on he ultimately shapedwhat went into the energy sector of the president’s 2009-Stimulus package.
KPCB Green Money: 2010 vs. 2012
In my three-part 2010 summer series, “Obama’s Political Payback: Green Corruption,” I warned that billions of stimulus money was going to Doerr and Gore; however, besides being RIGHT, since that time, they have tripled their portfolio and thus warranted another look.In 2010 I calculated that over 50 percent of the companies listed on Kleiner Perkins “Greentech Portfolio” secured all kinds of loans, grants and special tax breaks (federal and state), and at that time I reported that of the nineteen, nine were lucky winners. Then in 2011 new reports came out from Peter Schweizer’a bestseller, Throw Them All Out(referenced throughout as Peter’s Book), revealing that as many as sixteen (of 27) “received direct taxpayer support in the form of loans, grants, or stimulus work.”Now with 66 listed –– although in reality it would take a team of investigators to track all the money –– as one-person researcher, I’ve found much more. My conclusion is that over 50 percent (again) are confirmed 2009-Recovery Act winners (36 of the 66). This means that ultra-rich Doerr and Gore –– through their alternative energy investment firm –– have raked in at least $1 billion in green-government subsidies, the majority coming from President Obama’s 2009-stimulus spending spree.
While quite a few of Doerr and Gore clean energy investments have been listed in my 2012 Green-Energy Failure Alert List (total at 52), The Wall Street Journal’s end of the year analysis sheds light on Kleiner Perkins –– a “political venture capital turns out to be a loser,” concluding,
“[Gore’s backing of] environmentally correct companies, the collaboration has yielded few successful exits for Mr. Gore and his partners, along with some spectacular disasters.”So much for Mr. Doerr’s claim, “Our green investing doesn’t depend on government policies. It’s about basic supply and demand.”
Kleiner Perkins is also tied to over $9 billion of Obama approved DOE loans and 2009-Recovery Act funds. Through Gore’s UK-based Generation Investment Management (GIM), there’s Abengoa (a Spanish firm) that received three loans from the 1705 Loan Guarantee Program totaling close to $2.8 billion, which also recently got more money from another “massive taxpayer-backed fund for corporate welfare” –– the U.S. Export-Import Bank. While this too carries its very own corruption slant, the $150 million is going for green jobs, not here in the United States, but overseas. Hmm, our jobs council must be proud.
Also through GIM, there’s “The First Solar Three Billion Dollar Swindle,” which includes three large solar projects, and casts plenty more shady characters (Obama bundlers and top donors) in the green-deal making process –– a story Marita and I exposedin July 2012. Despite the fact that all three of these projects considered risky investments by Fitch, the DOE approved these “White House supported” loans through the 1703 program in August and September 2011, and shortly after were purchased by other Obama cronies.First Solar, a Goldman Sachs early investment, was also part of Gore’s GIM’s stock portfolio. In an interesting October 2012 article by Bill Gunderson of TheStreet, “According to SEC filings, Gore’s company bought 440,000 shares in late 2010 at about $130. By the first quarter of 2012, the value of First Solar — and just about every other solar manufacturer in America — had plummeted.” While Gore’s stock purchase just so happened to be during the DOE’s so-called review process of four First Solar loans, as reflected in the March 20, 2012 House Oversight Report, The Street reflects more on this. “Generation Investment rode it all the way down, buying more and more shares as the price went lower and lower until finally it reached $25 in the first quarter of 2012. Generation Investment was holding 1.1 million shares worth about $28 million. Filings for the next period show First Solar had disappeared from its portfolio — with Generation Investment selling its shares for somewhere between $12 and $25.”
But Gore wasn’t the only one selling out –– during a brutal (May 16, 2012) House Oversight hearing the truth came out, First Solar’s CEO Michael Ahearn sold 700,000 of his own shares in August 2011, of which he personally raked in a whopping $68.5 million, with reports of more. Ahearn also relunctantly admitted, “in sheer numbers, most of our full time [employees] are outside the US” –– I think to Spain.
Another one involves Kleiner Perkins “nuclear buddy” AREVA (Ausra Inc., also a GIM investment, acquired by the French company AREVA February 8, 2010) and its $2 billion “POTUS approved” loan. Plus Ausra, now Areva Solar Inc. was awarded close to a $14 million 1603 grant for “solar electricity” in California two weeks later. Topping off this “stimulus winner” connection list is their shining smart firm, Silver Spring Networks as well as OPower, of which both are tied to at least $1.3 billion of the Recovery Act Smart-Grid Grants.
So billions of stimulus money and green jobs are going to foreign companies –– where’s our jobs council on this?
While Doerr is a known Obama donor, we find that “Top Kleiner Perkins executives have given more than a million dollars to federal candidates and parties since 1991, most of it going to Democrats. Obama himself has received $19,000 from the company’s employees,” reports the National Review Online.
They go on further with details, “According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Brook Byers, also a major partner, has made $391,110 in political contributions since 1990, $148,500 of which went directly to the Democratic party (most of the rest went to individual Democratic candidates). Kleiner Perkins co-founder Frank Caufield’s $394,950 in political contributions since 1990 have gone almost entirely to Democrats. Another top partner, David Blood, helped organize a $2,300-a-head fundraiser for Candidate Obama in 2008.”
Green Energy: “The Mother of All Markets”
In 2010, I had written extensively on Doerr and Gore, and mentioned David Blood. Doerr and Gore –– the “climate duo,” whose combined “carbon footprint” is larger than my entire city –– friendship dates as far back as the 90′s. Since being converted to “global warming” by Gore in 2005 with “a convenient hype,” Doerr has become a “green evangelist,” with his climate crisis message, “I’m really scared, I don’t think we’re gonna make it.” At the same time Doerr continually markets green-energy as “the mother of all markets” –– $6 trillion a year worldwide.
In 2004 Gore started a company with former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management David Blood –– Generation Investment Management (GIM): “Sustainable Investing for the Long Term” –– whereas Blood is the “wizard behind” GIM, and other executives include two other Goldman bigwigs, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris.
In 2007, GIM and Kleiner Perkins created the “International Alliance to accelerate global climate solutions,” and about that time, Gore became a partner of Kleiner Perkins and Doerr joined the GIM advisory board.
In 2008, Kleiner Perkins launched the Green Growth Fund stating that “[it] will invest $500 million in Growth-Stage Companies,” and “separately announced the formation of KPCB XIII, a $700 million fund that will invest in greentech, information technology and life sciences ventures.” It turns out that “the KPCB Green Growth Fund will also enable the firm to extend its existing collaboration with the London based Generation Investment Management.”
Obviously Al Gore, a two-term Obama advocate, is a heavy weight within political circles, but don’t underestimate John Doerr’s, which politics date back to the Bush administration when “Doerr and his team were responsible for gettingthe ‘end-oil-addiction’ wording inserted into President Bush’s 2006 state-of-the-union address.”Furthermore, in 2008, Doerr placed his “hope” on the anointed one, and in January 2009, his persuasion was reflected in the 2009-Recovery Act via his “meetings with Obama’s transition team and leaders in Congress” as well as the fact that he made “five recommendations to Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to jumpstart a green-tech revolution and fight global warming.” Of course it included a cap-and-trade system (the real pot of gold at the end of the climate rainbow), smart grid, solar, and more federal money to be allocated toward renewable energy –– all of which would benefit his portfolio dramatically. And so it has…
Teaser: Senator John Kerry and Green-Energy Crony-Corruption
Before we dissect more of Kleiner Perkins “green,” I’d like to note that last May The Washington Free Beacon exposed Senator John Kerry, whom President Obama recently nominated as Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, and his part in this green-energy scheme. Kerry, the co-author of cap-and-trade legislation, more specifically the 2010 American Power Act, is another 2009-Recovery Act green-energy crafter, along with Doerr and five others that I found, which have cashed in big time from the stimulus funds (a forthcoming, explosive post).As revealed by The Free Beacon, “the Senator played a key role in crafting the portions of the legislation designed to offer federal support for green energy projects. Kerry also “purchased —through family trusts — between $30,000 and $100,000 worth of shares in a number of KPCB investment funds, including its “Green Growth Fund [that lists fourteen companies], and continued to purchase shares throughout 2010, according to the Senator’s financial disclosure forms.”Kerry is also tied to quite a few other high-profile banks and firms that received DOE loans and grants, however, Marita Noon (from Townhall.com) and I will be doing a full bombshell story on Senator Kerry’s role in this green-energy, crony-corruption scandal in the very near future.
10/31/12 Leaked House Oversight Emails Reveal more White House intervention and involvement as wells as DOE Advisors that pressured, rushed –– and contrary to their testimony, met with “investors” during the course of the “green deal making process.”
Next, I’d like to expose what I found in the October 31, 2012 House Oversight emails (that included a memorandum as well as Appendix I and the 350+ page Appendix II) related to four large Department of Energy (DOE) transactions. The first one I had alluded to in the beginning, which is tied to Gore’s GIM company, while the other three to Kleiner Perkins –– one acquired, one a direct investment, and the other as a contractor.
Keep in mind that the DOE Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) consists of three separate programs, Section 1703, Section 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM), of which the 1705 was created by the stimulus, and the other two were approved by the Obama administration.
Since 2009, DOE has guaranteed $34.7 billion of taxpayer money –– 1703 doled out $10.3 billion to two projects; AREVA and Georgia Power, which are both suspect. Meanwhile through the 1705 $16 billion was doled out to 26 projects, of which 22 were rated as “junk bond” status –– and we can confirm that over 90 percent are politically connected to the president and other high-ranking Democrats, some both. The ATVM loaned out $8.4 billion, of which three of the five are directly tied to President Obama, while the other two Ford Motor Co. and Nissan, were “heavily engaged in negotiations with the administration over fuel economy standards for model years 2012- 2016 at the time DOE was considering their applications.”
#1) Abengoa received three loans from the DOE 1705 Loan Guarantee Program totaling close to $2.8 billion/ and recently snagged $150 million from the Export-Import Bank of the United States
Spanish company Abengoa that received close to $2.8 billion in loans, making them the second largest recipient of the $16 billion doled out through the DOE 1705 loan guarantee program.
Abengoa has two solar projects: Solana and Mojave Solar. Solana’s Fitch rating is BB+. Just before Christmas, 2010, the company received $1.45 billion from the DOE for a solar thermal plant, to use parabolic trough technology in Gila Bend, AZ. Mojave Solar’s rating was BB. Yet the company received $1.2 billion in September 2011 for its solar assembly collection project in San Bernardino County, CA. Abengoa has connections to .
In addition to the two solar projects listed above, Abengoa also has a biofuel project located in Kansas, which Fitch rated CCC that got a $132.4 million loan in August 2010.
So how did such a poorly rated, non-American company get billions in US taxpayer loan guarantees? Can you say “crony corruption?” A story Marita and I wrote last summer, but in short, Abengoa has a cadre of cronies in high places which not only involves Al Gore, but former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, and, of course, President Obama — plus, many others whose names you’ve probably never heard of.
Also, as I mentioned, in December 2012, the Export-Import Bank of the United States authorized $150 million in loans to Abengoa: $78.6 million direct loan to Spain-based Abengoa, and $73.6 million direct loan to a wind farm in Uruguay, which is owned by Abengoa –– as part of “an ambitious goal set by President Obama, of doubling U.S. exports in five years,” which to me in the case of Abengoa, we are exporting billions of US tax dollars to Spain.
What’s relevant at this point, is that in 2007, Gore’s UK-based Generation Investment Management (GIM) bought a stake in Abengoa. He has extolled Abengoa for years, visiting “the largest solar platform in Europe” (operated by Abengoa) in October 2008 and delivering a high-powered speech at the company’s Spanish headquarters in October 2010. GIM Advisory Board Member Mario Molino also serves on Abengoa’s Advisory Committee.
While there are many emails to report on in regards to the Abengoa loans (a forthcoming column), one EMAIL in particular dated June 25, 2010 is very interesting. James McCrea writes to Jonathan Silver (cc’s David Frantz and Susan Richardson), with the subject line: Abengoa, Abound, First Wind, and Beacon: ”Jonathan — an update on the 4 projects as of this evening. DOE is moving with ‘”the fierce urgency of now,’” while OMB/Treasury/FFB are moving with “fierce urgency of… whenever. There has been no sign of life from OMB/FFB/Treasury and no sign that they are responding to WH intervention.”
Silver responds to McCrea and Richardson (cc’s David Frantz), “Sounds like we can’t do the closing deals but can announce the conditional commitments. Let’s keep pushing on all four, but I will set the stage upstairs.”
#2) AREVA: $2 Billion DOE 1703 Loan Guarantee
Ausra Inc. –– a KPCB investment that “develops and deploys utility-scale solar technologies,” February 8, 2010, was acquired by AREVA Inc. Then May 21, 2010, “The U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment for a $2 billion loan guarantee to AREVA to facilitate financing of its Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility planned for development near Idaho Falls, Idaho.” Plus Ausra, now Areva Solar Inc. was awarded close to a $14 million 1603 grant for “solar electricity” in California two weeks later, February 26, 2010.
EMAIL, September 1, 2009, subject line; etc warranty: James McCrea in addressing “AREVA backstopping,” writes, “Re the rushed process, I agree [another system of a process that’s overly and artificially rushed].” He goes on, “What makes it far worse, is that we are doing our analysis, preparing the term sheet, etc. (not ECT!!) before the project has gelled. In the commercial finance world, this transaction would not be ready for real financing discussion/term sheet preparation for a least a year.”
EMAIL, September 24, 2009, subject line; AREVA update: James McCrea writes, “Given the size of this transaction ($2B of loan guarantee), the political overlay, and recent experience with both CC and OMB, we are making every effort to button this transaction and the credit paper down as tightly as we can…”
Six months later we find an EMAIL dated March 1, 2010, subject line; Eagle Rock Project: from David Schmitzer, DOE LPO Director of Loan Origination to James McCrea: “Jonathan just said at our staff meeting that, opposite the message received on Thursday, AREVA is now a “‘go’” (seems on Friday POTUS himself approved moving it ahead).”
And two months later, May 2010, the $2 billion loan guarantee was approved, and they estimate that it will create 1000 construction jobs and a whopping 310 permanent jobs. Interesting enough is that AREVA is also tied to the UniStar project, which I found more damning evidence in the House Oversight leaked emails, implicating Secretary Chu and other Democrat politicians like
Steny Hoyer when he was the House Majority Leader in 2010, however, we need to get back to Kleiner Perkins.
NOTE: AREVA’s Eagle Rock Enrichment facility made it on my 2012 Green-Energy Failure Alert List, in the troubled category — with rumors of AREVA “suspending its Idaho uranium enrichment plant” circulated in late 2011, and more. But it’s unsure where they stand now…
#3) Fisker Automotive: $529 Million DOE ATVM Loan Guarantee / plus $21.5 million from the State of Delaware
One of the most blatant examples of government favoritism, catching headlines in the Wall Street Journal back in September 2009 (Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan) was the $529 million ATVM loan guarantee, a huge deal that was cinched in April 2010, went to Fisker Automotive. Yep, Doerr and Gore’s Fisker DOE loan ignited red flags, partly due to the fact that the funds were for its high-end, hybrid sports coupe, Fisker Karma that was to be manufactured in Finland and sold for $89,000.
Isn’t that dandy? Even our jobs council is shipping jobs overseas, and using taxpayer money to do so…
Still, haven’t a few gone up in flames lately, and what about those layoffs? In fact Fisker too, made it on my 2012 Green-Energy Failure Alert List (total at 52), in the troubled category –– as they are possibly on life support. And what about the $21.5 million Fisker got from Delaware, which is composed of a $9 million grant and a $12.5 million loan, yet as of January 5th the company has yet to produce a car in Delaware.
Now in my analysis of these emails, I didn’t find much on the ATVM front, however, there were a few interactions that occurred between the following:
- Stephen Fisher, Director at Scully Capital Services, a Financial Advisor to U.S. Department
of Energy on the Federal Loan Guarantee Program, including the ATVM
- James C. McCrea, (FORMER?) Senior Credit Advisor Loan Programs Department of Energy
- Jason H. Gerbsman, (FORMER?) Chief of Staff & Senior Investment Officer, Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, Office of Loan Programs, U.S. Department of Energy
- Lachlan Seward, amongst other high-profile government and financial works, he is the former Director of the ATVM Loan Program
- Jonathan Silver, former Executive Director of the Loans Programs Office Department of Energy (November 2009 to October 2011)
EMAILS dated May 16 to 18, 2011, where the aforementioned were discussing Next AutoWorks (they were seeking a $320 million ATVM loan) and the fact that Jonathan Silver was meeting with John Doerr on Tuesday, May 24, 2011.
Further, one EMAIL dated May 18, 2011 from Stephen Fisher to Jim McCrea, references a Next Framework Letter, where he writes, “Watch for a draft letter (Silver to Ligocki) coming this afternoon,” and then goes on… “It does make you wonder why we are putting all this in a letter to them. “It is a very strange process change for no good reason other than communicating with the Kleiner Perkins benefactors…”
NOTE: Kathleen Ligocki is an Operating Executive at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (since September 2012) and serves as Chief Executive Officer of Next Autoworks Company (since 2010), a Kleiner Perkins company.
Next AutoWorks (formally V-Vehicle), is backed by Google Ventures, T. Boone Pickens, and Kleiner Perkins –– all Obama buddies. However, in November 2011, due to the to the defaults and federal probes into of other DOE-funded startups like Solyndra and Beacon Power that caused the government to re-evaluate its appetite for loans to early-stage companies, they withdrew their application in November 2011, “after DOE officials informed the automobile startup that its application would not be approved.”
The car cronyism is obvious within the ATVM program, and I had sounded that “corruption alarm” in 2010, and this past November updated the story, “Cruising Down the Green Cronyism Road,” whereas all five loans were tied to the president. Moreover this past November, Marita and I were given the exclusive interview XP Technologies, the company that filed a lawsuit against the federal government concerning the DOE’s denial of XP Technology’s loan guarantee application. The complaint alleges: “criminal activities did take place by DOE staff and affiliates.”Still, this [Next AutoWorks] email interaction is another case where we can prove that Mr. Silver lied under oath before the July 18, 2012, Oversight Hearing, where he had emphatically denied that he or anyone else in the DOE Loan Program knew who the investors were in the companies applying for loans. Silver said, “indeed no one in the Loan Program had any idea what individuals were involved in this [Abound] or any other transaction, nor did we care.” Even a second time, “…as I say, almost nobody that I am aware of in the Loan Program even knew who the individuals were who had invested, either directly or indirectly, into these companies.” I guess nobody does care, not even the House Oversight Committee that Silver lied to…
#4) U.S. Geothermal: $97 million loan via the DOE 1705 Loan Guarantee Program
U.S. Geothermal Inc. (USG) –– an Idaho-based geothermal energy developer with three main projects in the works: San Emidio in Nevada, Raft River in Idaho, and Neal Hot Springs in Oregon, with plans for more. Peter’s Book notes that Goldman Sachs “was the second-largest-shareholder” however, in December 2011, The Huffington Post reported, “Goldman has a minority stake in U.S. Geothermal,” and “U.S. Geothermal is working with Raft River I Holdings, yet another Goldman subsidiary, on a project in Idaho.”
Neal Hot Springs Project in Malheur County, Oregon:
In May 2009, USG started the DOE loan process, and in June 2010, USG announced that it “was offered a conditional commitment for a $102.2-million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy,” slated to build a 22-megawatt power plant in the eastern Oregon desert.
In EMAIL exchanges February 16 and 17, 2011, discussing POTUS/LPO and President Obama’s visit to Oregon, Jonathan Silver writes, “See Below: POTUS will be in Portland on Friday (that is a close hold) and would like to announce both deals. So, you will not be surprised that OMB has cleared both. We need to get our work done on US Geothermal. I realize it is unfair. Life in the big city. Thanks! This will be a great week for the program!”
Later Matthew Winters (Senior Advisor, Loan Programs) responds about US Geothermal, “Now that we know POTUS is not going to make the SoloPower/USGeo announcement in Portland on Friday –– and we are going to announce SoloPower w/Chu at 4:30pm tomorrow –– the question is what do we do with USGeothermal? With appropriate pressure applied on OMB, this deal could still close by Friday…”
Brandon Hulbut, replies to Winters and cc’s Jonathan Silver, Owen Barwell, and Jim McCrea, “At wh let’s discuss first thing tomorrow –– heard some stuff from omb we need to sort out.”
And just a week later, February 24, 2011, USG secured the loan for $96.8-million via the 1705 loan guarantee program –– one of the first geothermal projects funded by the DOE, despite the fact that in December 2010, S&P gave it a “BB,” non-investment grade.
Now why is US Geothermal relevant to John Doerr?
Well, besides the fact that this Oregon-based project is “expected to create 150 construction jobs and 10 permanent jobs” for whopping $97 million — another tainted mark on Obama’s jobs panel –– Doerr and Gore are in cahoots with Goldman Sachs on many of theses green-energy deals, and as you continue reading you’ll discover this entire green-energy scheme.
It turns out that in June 2010, “USG selected “TAS Energy, Inc. to supply high efficiency, modular, clean energy power plant technology for its Neal Hot Springs geothermal power plant in Eastern Oregon.” In that announcement they mention the $102.2-million loan guarantee from the DOE.
Furthermore, the day the USG loan was finalized, TAS Energy “was awarded a contract by USG Oregon, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Geothermal Inc.” And interestingly, TAS Energy became part of Kleiner Perkins Green Growth Fund, a deal they closed in June 2011. So, while I can’t locate any direct stimulus funds for TAS, they did get a JOB, and are still getting paid with taxpayer money, and from the Recovery Act.
However, there is more USG government money to expose; the Neal Hot Springs Project was also counting “on a separate, $34 million federal tax rebate— money that’s part of the 2009 federal stimulus act.” Now, I’m unsure whether they got that, but I do know that USG Oregon project was not the only winner of Obama stimulus funds. Here’s a brief glance at the other two:San Emidio Project in Nevada:
In October 2009, USG was “awarded $3.77 million in Recovery Act funding for the exploration and development of its San Emidio geothermal power project.” In November 2011, USG (for San Emidio Geothermal Project) secured a $9 million cash grant via the Section 1603 ITC, also part of the Recovery Act.Raft River Project in Idaho:
In September 2009, the DOE finalized an award for the Raft River EGS program, which they state, “now totals up to $10.21 million, with the DOE providing up to $7.39 million as part of the cost-sharing arrangement.” It also states, The Raft River EGS project is one of 21 projects that are scheduled to conduct research, develop and demonstrate the viability of Enhanced Geothermal Systems. The DOE provided up to $78 million in funding for the 2008/2009 programs,” and it began in February 2010.
Kleiner Perkins Projects Tied to Goldman Sachs and Wealthy Venture Capitalists: Obama Bundlers, Top Donors, and Appointed Department of Energy Advisors
Besides General Electric and Gore’s Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins is also in cahoots with other fat-cat Obama bundles and donors –– two became DOE Advisors –– that were huge winners of the Obama “green stimulus cash” (taxpayer money that is): Goldman Sachs, Khosla Ventures, and The Westly Group as well as Vantage Point Capital Partners and Google Ventures.
Back in 2010, I reported on Goldman Sachs and the fact that they were cashing in on the green stimulus, and as my research developed, found their DNA is all over this green-energy scheme, including “The First Solar Three Billion Dollar Swindle,” explained earlier.
Besides First Solar and U.S. Geothermal, there is another Goldman investments that happens to be part of the 1705 “DOE junk bond portfolio.” Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC (Cogentrix Energy a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs), which despite the fact that it had a “B rating” by Fitch in July 2011, in September 2011 they snagged a $90.6 million DOE loan ”to support one of the first utility scale, high concentration photovoltaic energy generation facilities in the U.S. and the largest of its kind in the world.”
What you should know about Cogentrix, besides the fact that $90 million of taxpayer money went to create a whopping 10 jobs, is that with this one transaction, Goldman Sachs cashed in every step of the way –– and their green cronies too. (A striking detail that I found when reviewing the June 19, 2012 House Oversight Hearing, where the CEO of Cogentrix Mr. Robert Mancini testified).
This is relevant not just because of the obvious cronyism and deep-seated corruption, but this green deal making is also tied to Amonix, a Gore and Doerr (also Steve Westly, DOE Advisor) investment, which received over $20 million in federal tax credits and grants, and went bankrupt July 18, 2012. More on Amonix later.
I’ve noted Obama’s Wall Street Buddies in previous posts, and have written extensively about the president’s connection to Goldman Sachs –– the number two top Obama donor in 2008. Also, two Goldman executives sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee, Bruce Heyman and David Heller, while Jennifer Scully and Bruce Heyman were 2008 bundlers –– Heyman was also a 2012 Obama bundler.
Even without extensive research, Goldman Sachs is tied to many other clean-energy projects that received loans, grants and special tax breaks from the Obama administration, and what I’ve tracked so far are billions of stimulus money from the DOE; First Solar, Cogentrix, and U.S. Geothermal. They are also credited as the “exclusive financial adviser” for now bankrupt Solyndra, and in 2010, handled the IPO of both Tesla Motors and Amyris. There are more bankrupt ones as well –– SpectraWatt and Nordic WindPower, as well as “struggling” SunTech, taking billions of taxpayer money down with them.
NOTE: All but three of the above are on my 2012 Green-Energy Failure Alert List.
But wait…… as I glance at an old PDF (April 2011) copy of Goldman Sachs Environmental
Markets (link no longer valid), besides First Solar, U.S. Geothermal, Nordic WindPower, and SunTech, there are six more. One that sticks out in my memory is Horizon Wind Energy, of which “EDP-Energias de Portugal SA, the country’s biggest electricity utility, agreed to buy Horizon Wind Energy LLC of Texas from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for $2.15 billion,” and Citigroup Inc. advised EDP on the Horizon acquisition,” according to Bloomberg in 2007.
Now Horizon is very relevant to the “Wind Energy Blows in More Green Corruption” story that I will be telling soon. But in the meantime, you’ll be “blown away” by the billions of “wind energy grants” that flew out of the 2009-Recovery Act back in February 2010, the majority of which went to projects owned by foreign companies. And Horizon-EDPR (Portugal) was the winners of four totaling over $277 million.
In March 2012, Goldman Sachs announced its plan “to channel investments totaling $40 billion over the next decade into renewable energy projects, an area the investment bank called one of the biggest profit opportunities since its economists got excited about emerging markets in 2001,” writes Reuters –– meaning they’ll be pursuing for more government aid.
Khosla Ventures is where you’ll find billionaire Vinod Kholsa, and “Kholsa had been the head of Obama’s India Policy Team during the 2008 election,” states Peter’s Book. As revealed by a recent Breitbart.com article, “In October 2012, Mr. Khosla donated one million dollars to Priorities USA Action, a top liberal super PAC that backed President Barack Obama’s reelection. According to Reuters, since 1996, Mr. Khosla has made at least $474,534 in campaign donations, 86% of which went to Democrats.”
Mr. Khosla happens to be another big VC winner in the green taxpayer funded giveaway, which includes Ausra (listed above), Coskata that snagged a $250 million DOE loan, as well as Nordic WindPower (also a Goldman Sachs investment, listed above) for $16 million, plus much, much more.
Vinod Khosla, an affiliated partner of Kleiner Perkins, whose firm Khosla Ventures has also invested in some of the same companies as Kleiner Perkins –– these include Ausra Inc., AltaRock, Amyris, Great PointEnergy, Mascoma, and QuantumScape (part of Khosla Ventures “sustainability portfolio“), and all received Obama stimulus funds.
The Westly Group
Meet Steve Westly, the Founder and Managing Partner of The Westly Group, and a “DOE Insider,” as well as another Obama crony who made a DNC 2012 cameo. Westly is a two-time Obama bundler, sat on the campaign’s National Finance Committee, and was a co-chair of the 2012 Technology for Obama group. He was briefly considered for a cabinet level position in the Obama administration, and in August 2010, Westly secured a top advisory role inside the DOE, close to Energy Secretary Chu.
In 2011, Westly was tagged as the “Green bundler with the golden touch,” where IWatch points to “a trail of [green] loans, grants and tax breaks.” However, I found more –– as of today they list 20 firms (exited and current), and at least 50 percent of The Westly Group portfolio were winners in the Obama green-energy spending spree.
The most infamous is the Tesla Motors $465 million ATVM loan, which made it on my 2012 Green Energy Failure Alert List, in the troubled category with its array of Democrat cronies.
Throw in Soladigm (now called “view“), CalStar Products, and Enerkem, which 2009 got $50 million of DOE Recovery-Act funding, and in 2011, 80 million loan guarantee by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). SCIenergy, Inc., which in January 2012 got $2.8 million, plus more from city of San Jose via the stimulus. Meanwhile ShotSpotter is getting wired from stimulus funds, and in 2010, Revolution Foods got a DC contract for two “healthy school meals” pilot programs.
Topping the Westly list with more winners of green Recovery Act funds, Amonix, Amyris Biotechnologies, EdenIQ, RecycleBank, and Solexel, which are all part of Kleiner Perkins greentech portfolio, and you’ve got a DOE Advisor that we can now label as the ”Green Golden Boy.”
Vantage Point Capital Partners
Add another “DOE Insider,” Sanjay Wagle, who was an Obama fundraiser for the 2008 campaign through his Clean Tech for Obama group. After the 2008 election, Wagle joined the Obama administration as a “renewable energy grants adviser” at the Department of Energy under Secretary Chu (reported to beat the ARPA-E program at the DOE).Prior to arriving in Washington, Wagle was a principal at Vantage Point Venture Partners, a cleantech venture capital firm, where Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a Partner and Senior Advisor. However, according to some Greentech defenders, “Wagle gave up any interests in VantagePoint and the companies it invested in before joining DOE,” and left the DOE sometime in 2012.
That may be true (although I’d like to see the proof), but Wagle was part of the September 22, 2009, Valerie Jarrett “CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT” held at the White House, whereas “attendees [had] struck gold, cashing in on $5.3 billion in taxpayer funds from the Obama administration.” This was as of June 5, 2012, but I found much more.
Part of that “gold rush” included Vanatage Point‘s portfolio, which has at least nine green firms that have snagged green-government subsidies, and three are listed on my 2012 Green Energy Failure Alert List; Telsa Motors, BrightSource Energy and its $1.6B Shady DOE Deal, as well as Serious Energy –– all listed in the troubled category. Meanwhile there are many tied to other “green allies” that were huge winners of “green” taxpayer money, but four are Kleiner Perkins investments: Amprius, FloDesign, Mascoma, and MiaSole’.
In my last post about GE, I shared a set of DOE emails that revealed pressure by the White House (specifically, Vice President Joe Biden, who was supposed to be the Stimulus Sheriff) in the Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon (Caithness Shepherds Flat, LLC). However, last summer, I divulged that after the huge $1.3 billion DOE loan was finalized in December 2010, four months later, another close associate of, and big donor to the president invested in Caithness.
Enter in Google…
As uncovered in Peter’s Book, “Google’s CEO at the time, Eric Schmidt, served as an informal advisor to President Obama.” Still, Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman, was an Obama donor in 2008, and since April 2009, is a member of the president’s Science and Technology Advisory Council (PCAST). In fact, Google’s $814,540 contribution to Obama’s campaign made it the fifth largest donor in 2008, and in 2012 moved up to the number three spot with a whopping $805,119.
Another Google connection is Dan Reicher, director of climate and energy initiatives at Google, was one of the founders of Cleantech and Green Business Leaders for Obama. While there are other interesting folks behind the Google scenes, John Doerr has served as a member of Goolge’s board of directors since May 1999.
Furthermore, according to Michelle Malkin, ” Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President David Drummond, and Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf are all vocal Obama supporters and top donors.”
As of late, Google has aimed its “search engines” at green technology, many of which have received government help –– BrightSource, Solar City, Telsa Motors, and others. In fact, Google Ventures, Energy Investments list include (d): CoolPlanetBioFuels, Amprius, Clean Power Finance, Nest, Next Autoworks, Silver Spring Networks, and Transphorm, the latter six are also part of Kleiner Perkins greentech portfolio with four verified Recovery Act winners.
You can bet your bottom dollar, if you have one left, that we’ll find tons more green-energy funds inside these fat cats’ treasure chests, especially since the DOE continues to hand out checks. Furthermore, in an interview for TIME’s Person of the Year award, President Obama said “the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years.” So, if our president gets his way with more stimulus and/or renewable energy funds (and he will, just watch for the sales pitch, “invest”), this Elite Green Group will be there with their hand out for more corporate welfare checks, and President Obama will oblige –– after all they got him elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, political payback.
What really ticks me off, is that if these ultra rich dudes REALY want to save the planet, why don’t they use their own dang money?
Signing the Taxpayer Theft Act Disguised as Stimulus
Christine Lakatos is the mother of two awesome daughters, diet book author, ACE Certified fitness expert, and post at Fitness Flash. her new venture –– ferocious researcher and “Green Corruption” blogger. She is also a retired athlete, fitness competitor and American Gladiator’s contestant, plus more. Full bio>
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Connect the Dots :: Obama Administration Approves ,Roadmap for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development on Public Lands
10/12/2012 Contact: Blake Androff (DOI) 202-208-6416
David Quick (BLM) 202-912-7413
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today finalized a program for spurring development of solar energy on public lands in six western states. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects.
Today’s action builds on the Administration’s historic progress to facilitate renewable energy development. On Tuesday, with the authorization of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming, Interior reached the President’s goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands. Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure. When built, these projects will provide enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes, and support 13,000 construction and operations jobs according to project developer estimates.
“Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar, who signed today’s Record of Decision at an event in Las Vegas, Nevada with Senator Harry Reid. “This historic initiative provides a roadmap for landscape-level planning that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands and reflects President Obama’s commitment to grow American made energy and create jobs.”
The Solar PEIS establishes an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones (SEZs), totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands, that will serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development, with the potential for additional zones through ongoing and future regional planning processes (emphasis mine). If fully built out, projects in the designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power approximately 7 million American homes. The program also keeps the door open, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside SEZs on about 19 million acres in “variance” areas. The program also includes a framework for regional mitigation plans, and to protect key natural and cultural resources the program excludes a little under 79 million acres that would be inappropriate for solar development based on currently available information.
“The Solar PEIS sets forth an enduring, flexible blueprint for developing utility-scale solar projects in the right way, and in the right places, on our public lands,” said David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior. “Never before has the Interior Department worked so closely and collaboratively with the industry, conservationists and sportsmen alike to develop a sound, long-term plan for generating domestic energy from our nation’s sun-drenched public lands.”
The signing of the Record of Decision today follows the July release of the Final PEIS, a comprehensive analysis done in partnership with the Department of Energy that identified locations on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands most suitable for solar energy development. These areas are characterized by excellent solar resources, access to existing or planned transmission and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources.
“We are proud to be a part of this initiative to cut through red tape and accelerate the development of America’s clean, renewable energy,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies—and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs.”
Today’s action is in line with the President’s direction to continue to expand domestic energy production, safely and responsibly. Since President Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production at an eight-year high, natural gas production at an all-time high, and foreign oil imports now accounting for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.
By Alan Caruba
I suspect that most people think the Earth is running out of oil or that the U.S. and the rest of the world are “addicted” to its use.
Both beliefs are wrong, but in different ways. First because the Earth produces oil in abundance deep within its mantel in ways that have nothing to do with dead dinosaurs and gives no indication of ever stopping this natural process and, second, because the use of oil for fuel and for thousands of other applications, not the least of which is plastics, is one of the great blessings of modern technology and life.
All this is made dazzlingly clear in Dr. Jerome R. Corsi’s new book, “The Great Oil Conspiracy” ($22.95, Skyhorse Publishing). By way of explaining why there is so much oil within the planet Dr. Corsi tells the story of the Nazi regimes development of synthetic oil after German scientists “cracked the code God built into the heart of chemistry to form hydrocarbons in the first place.” Known as the “Fischer-Tropsch” process, it permitted the Nazis to pursue war even though Germany had no oil fields of its own.
The widespread use of the term “fossil fuels” is a deception created by anti-energy propagandists and earlier theorists to make people believe that oil is the result of countless dead dinosaurs and decaying vegetation. Oil, however, is “abiotic”, a term that means it is a natural product of the earth itself “manufactured at deep levels where there never were any plants or animals.”
Corsi writes of Thomas Gold, a professor of astronomy who taught at Cornell University. In 1998 he published a controversial book entitled “The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels” in which he applied his knowledge of the solar system, noting that carbon is the fourth more abundant element in the universe, right after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Gold pointed out that “carbon is found mostly in compounds with hydrogen—hydrocarbons—which, at different temperatures and pressures, may be gaseous, liquid, or solid.”
Gold, who passed away in 2004, was way ahead of most other scientists with his assertion that the earth produces oil at very deep levels. While telling the story of how the U.S. went to great lengths to acquire the data regarding synthetic oil production as our military overran Germany and then took care not to let the public know about. It was, after all, our own oil industry that had provided the fuel that aided the war effort in both theatres.
Correspondingly, the oil industry had no reason to develop “relatively expensive synthetic oil when billions of dollars in profits could be made annually bringing to market naturally produced and reasonably priced hydrocarbon fuels, including crude oil and natural gas.”
This mirrors the efforts of “renewable” energy producers, wind, solar, and biofuels like ethanol, to profit at the cost of billions of dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees paid for by taxpayers along with higher electricity and gasoline bills paid for by consumers; all of which are mandated by the federal government. It is pure crony capitalism to enrich a few at the expense of all the rest of us. None of these alternative forms of power could exist or even compete without such government mandated support.
As Dr. Corsi points out, “Eliminating the fear that the world is running out of oil eliminates an urgency to experiment with or to implement alternative fuels including biofuels, wind energy, and solar energy as long as these energies remain less energy-efficient, less reliable, and more costly than using oil and natural gas.”
There are, in fact, “more proven petroleum reserves than ever before, despite the increasing rate at which we are consuming petroleum products worldwide” says Dr. Corsi, noting that the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, in on record that “there are more proven crude oil reserves worldwide than ever in recorded history, despite the fact that worldwide consumption of crude oil has doubled since the 1970s.”
So tell me why, since the Obama administration took over, have gas prices per gallon risen from $1.84 to $3.80 now, a rise of 105%? The American Energy Alliance compared costs between 2009 and 2012, publishing them to reveal that we are all paying more for energy. The average monthly residential electricity bill has increased 6% and annual household energy expenses have increased 31%.
At the same time, the Obama Department of Energy increased new rules whose implementation cost more than $100 million each 141%! The Environmental Protection Agency increase of such regulations increased 40%, the Department of the Interior, 13%.
Total regulatory costs (all sectors) went from $1,172 trillion in 2009 to $1,752 trillion today! If you were trying to bankrupt the energy sector and its consumers, this is a great way to do it.
You can access the AEA chart at: Click Here
The Obama administration came into office declaring a war on coal, further restricting oil and natural gas exploration on federal lands and offshore, and wasting billions on solar, wind, and biofuel companies. That in itself would be reason enough to turn them out of office.
The Earth is not running out of oil and likely never will.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Increased utility-scale pipeline dominance and a marked difference between the downstream strategies of First Solar and SunPowerApril 28, 2010 Shayle Kann
This morning, First Solar announced the acquisition of Nextlight Renewable Power, LLC for about $285 million. In doing so, it combined the largest utility-scale PV project pipeline in the U.S. with the second largest. First Solar already had over 1.4 GW in development through a mix of multi-hundred megawatt projects (Sunlight, Stateline and Topaz) and a number of smaller projects. Nextlight, which was founded by Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm with over $3 billion in funds under management, had a 570 MW contracted pipeline of mostly large-scale projects which have now been added to First Solar’s coffers.
First Solar’s downstream integration strategy has largely been built around the acquisition of expertise and pipelines. In 2007 it acquired Turner Renewable Energy, gaining an internal EPC team. This was followed by two pipeline acquisitions: Optisolar in 2009 and Edison Mission Group earlier this year.
Today’s acquisition does two things for First Solar. First, it builds First Solar’s development and EPC team. One of Nextlight’s biggest selling points was its management team, which has deep roots in the energy project development business. If First Solar is shifting its resources more heavily toward the downstream side of the market, it will benefit from a larger project development experience base.
Second, it ensures First Solar’s near-term dominance in the U.S. utility-scale project development game. First Solar’s contracted pipeline already dwarfed its next competitor (which happened to be Nextlight), but now we estimate it to be more than seven times the size of the next largest U.S. pipeline.
Source: GTM Research
Aside from the impact on First Solar’s business, this can be viewed as an incremental negative for other module suppliers, particularly SunPower. By locking up a large proportion of contracted utility-scale projects in the U.S. to use its own modules, First Solar is effectively limiting the total market for its upstream competitors. The utility-scale market in the U.S. has thus far been a tale of two suppliers: First Solar and SunPower. Until this announcement, Nextlight was rumored to be considering using SunPower’s high efficiency crystalline modules on one-axis trackers for a number of its projects — but that possibility has now disappeared.
But not to fear for SunPower, because it has been focusing its downstream efforts on the high-return Mediterranean markets, as evidenced by its recent acquisition of SunRay. This difference between the downstream efforts of each company reflects a dynamic that GTM Research has noted for some time now. In markets with high fixed incentives such as Spain, Italy, Greece and France, project developers are easily able to meet investor threshold returns at a range of reasonable module prices. Equity investors will not base an investment decision on the difference between, say, 20 percent and 22 percent internal rates of return (IRRs). The developer’s best strategy, then, is to maximize gross project returns — to maximize the total value of funds upon which it can earn attractive returns. In contrast, markets such as the United States and Germany, in which investor returns are tighter and incentives smaller, place greater emphasis on maximizing equity IRRs. In order to meet threshold rates of return, developers must seek to cut project costs as much as possible.
Given current pricing and efficiency, lower cost, lower efficiency thin-film modules (particularly First Solar’s CdTe) tend to provide slightly higher equity IRRs. But higher cost, higher efficiency crystalline silicon modules (such as SunPower’s “Super Mono c-Si” modules) offer larger gross returns. The figure below displays the differential between two representative 10 MW ground mount systems in Spain, one using CdTe modules on a fixed substructure and the other using Super Mono c-Si modules on a 1-axis tracking system. Over time, gross returns (represented by project NPV) decline along with the Spanish feed-in tariff but falling system prices enable steady equity IRRs.
Source: GTM Research
This serves as a partial explanation for First Solar’s dominance, both in terms of modules and project development, in the U.S. and German utility-scale PV markets. It also partially explains SunPower’s focus on growing Mediterranean countries and other high feed-in tariff markets for its utility-scale project development operations. Over time, this differential between technologies may fall and project pipelines could become more evenly spread amongst technologies and suppliers. But in the meantime, watch for First Solar to maintain its position atop all suppliers and developers in the U.S. utility-scale PV market.
As a final note, it is important to remember that there are two reasons why the window of opportunity in the U.S. is far from closing for other module suppliers. First, the utility-scale market in the U.S. remains nascent and a true ramp-up will far exceed the 2,000 MW under contract with First Solar. In other words, there is still plenty of room for entry. Second, utilities may ultimately become wary of increasing their exposure to a single developer (i.e., First Solar) in order to meet their renewable energy or solar mandates. As a result, we may begin to see utilities with existing First Solar contracts selecting other developers in future RFP cycles.