The stimulus has produced a tax payer funded “gold rush of subsidies.” GE, NRG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and many others have taken full advantage of a “once in a generation opportunity” (according to NRG’s CEO) to spend your money for their benefit.
I am actually a big fan of alternative energy. The way we generate energy in the United States could be done so much more efficiently. Having large power plants radiating out electricity, as we do now, is probably not the best way forward in the 21st Century. Though it is highly profitable for the utilities.
Oil, coal, and nuclear are not free market energies. They benefit from numerous subsidies. The nuclear energy industry probably wouldn’t exist if it were not massive subsidies, largely written into law with the help of Republicans. In a nutshell- nuke plants are built with federally backed loans, then if there is a catastrophe any liability over $10 billion is on the taxpayer. In the meantime the utilities turn on the money spigot for shareholders.
But that doesn’t mean that we should just subsidize “green” energy too, encouraging an ever escalating race for yet more subsidies on all sides of the energy game. The linked article below, from the New York Times if you can believe it, identifies how once there was stimulus in the water the sharks went into a feeding frenzy.
For the record I believe we actually need an “Internet of energy” where homes and neighborhoods are prosumers of energy. I won’t go into the logistics but the idea is that on occasion each energy consumer could also be an energy producer, selling energy back to the grid. If the grid was free flowing the increase in efficiency would be enormous. This could be done entirely within the free market, but that is for another post.
(From the New York Times)
NRG, along with partners, ultimately secured $5.2 billion in federal loan guarantees plus hundreds of millions in other subsidies for four large solar projects.
“I have never seen anything that I have had to do in my 20 years in the power industry that involved less risk than these projects,” he said in a recent interview. “It is just filling the desert with panels.”
Nick Sorrentino 11-12-2011