“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search

New York Times

WASHINGTON — Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on a former cattle ranch and gypsum mine, NRG Energy is building an engineering marvel: a compound of nearly a million solar panels that will produce enough electricity to power about 100,000 homes.

The project is also a marvel in another, less obvious way:

Taxpayers and ratepayers are providing subsidies worth almost as much as the entire $1.6 billion cost of the project.

Similar subsidy packages have been given to 15 other solar- and wind-power electric plants since 2009.

The government support — which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates — largely eliminated the risk to the private investors and almost guaranteed them large profits for years to come.

The beneficiaries include financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, conglomerates like General Electric, utilities like Exelon and NRG — even Google.

A great deal of attention has been focused on Solyndra, a start-up that received $528 million in federal loans to develop cutting-edge solar technology before it went bankrupt, but nearly 90 percent of the $16 billion in clean-energy loans guaranteed by the federal government since 2009 went to subsidize these lower-risk power plants, which in many cases were backed by big companies with vast resources.

When the Obama administration and Congress expanded the clean-energy incentives in 2009, a gold-rush mentality took over.

As NRG’s chief executive, David W. Crane, put it to Wall Street analysts early this year, the government’s largess was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and “we intend to do as much of this business as we can get our hands on.”

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.”

From 2007 to 2010, federal subsidies jumped to $14.7 billion from $5.1 billion, according to a recent study.

Most of the surge came from the economic stimulus bill, which was passed in 2009 and financed an Energy Department loan guarantee program and a separate Treasury Department grant program that were promoted as important in creating green jobs.

States like California sweetened the pot by offering their own tax breaks and by approving long-term power-purchase contracts that, while promoting clean energy, will also require ratepayers to pay billions of dollars more for electricity for as long as two decades.

The federal loan guarantee program expired on Sept. 30. The Treasury grant program is scheduled to expire at the end of December, although the energy industry is lobbying Congress to extend it. But other subsidies will remain.

The windfall for the industry over the last three years raises questions of whether the Obama administration and state governments went too far in their support of solar and wind power projects, some of which would have been built anyway, according to the companies involved.

Obama administration officials argue that the incentives, which began on a large scale late in the Bush administration but were expanded by the stimulus legislation, make economic and environmental sense. Beyond the short-term increase in construction hiring, they say, the cleaner air and lower carbon emissions will benefit the country for decades.

“Subsidies and government support have been part of many key industries in U.S. history — railroads, oil, gas and coal, aviation,” said Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman.

A Case Study

NRG’s California Valley Solar Ranch project is a case study in the banquet of government subsidies available to the owners of a renewable-energy plant.

The first subsidy is for construction. The plant is expected to cost $1.6 billion to build, with key components made by SunPower at factories in California and Asia. In late September, the Energy Department agreed to guarantee a $1.2 billion construction loan, with the Treasury Department lending the money at an exceptionally low interest rate of about 3.5 percent, compared with the 7 percent that executives said they would otherwise have had to pay.

That support alone is worth about $205 million to NRG over the life of the loan, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Booz & Company, a strategic consulting firm that regularly performs such studies for private investors.

When construction is complete, NRG is eligible to receive a $430 million check from the Treasury Department — part of a change made in 2009 that allows clean-energy projects to receive 30 percent of their cost as a cash grant upfront instead of taking other tax breaks gradually over several years.

Californians are also making a big contribution. Under a state law passed to encourage the construction of more solar projects, NRG will not have to pay property taxes to San Luis Obispo County on its solar panels, saving it an estimated $14 million a year.

Assisted by another state law, which mandates that California utilities buy 33 percent of their power from clean-energy sources by 2020, the project’s developers struck lucrative contracts with the local utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to buy the plant’s power for 25 years.

P.G.& E., and ultimately its electric customers, will pay NRG $150 to $180 a megawatt-hour, according to a person familiar with the project, who asked not to be identified because the price information was confidential. At the time the contract was awarded, that was about 50 percent more than the expected market cost of electricity in California from a newly built gas-powered plant, state officials said.

While neither state regulators nor the companies will divulge all the details, the extra cost to ratepayers amounts to a $462 million subsidy, according to Booz, which calculated the present value of the higher rates over the life of the contracts.

Additional depreciation tax breaks for renewable energy plants could save the company an additional $110 million, according to Christopher Dann, the Booz analyst who examined the project.

The total value of all those subsidies in today’s dollars is about $1.4 billion, leading to an expected rate of return of 25 percent for the project’s equity investors, according to Booz.

Mr. Crane of NRG disputed the Booz estimate, saying that the company’s return on equity was “in the midteens.”

NRG, which initially is investing about $400 million of its own money in the project, expects to get all of its equity back in two to five years, according to a statement it made in August to Wall Street analysts.

By 2015, NRG expects earnings of at least $300 million a year before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization from all of its solar projects combined, making these investments some of the more lucrative pieces in its sprawling portfolio, which includes dozens of power plants fueled by coal, natural gas and oil.

NRG is not the only company gobbling up subsidies. At least 10 of the 16 solar or wind electricity generation projects that secured Energy Department loan guarantees intend to also take the Treasury Department grant, and all but two of the projects have long-term agreements to sell almost all of their power, according to a survey of the companies by The Times.

These projects, in almost all cases, benefit from legislation that has been passed in about 30 states that pushes local utility companies to buy a significant share of their power from renewable sources, like solar or wind power. These mandates often have resulted in contracts with above-market rates for the project developers, and a guarantee of a steady revenue stream.

“It is like building a hotel, where you know in advance you are going to have 100 percent room occupancy for 25 years,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive of SolarReserve. His Nevada solar project has secured a 25-year power-purchase agreement with the state’s largest utility and a $737 million Energy Department loan guarantee and is on track to receive a $200 million Treasury grant.

Because the purchase mandates can drive up electricity rates significantly, some states, including New Jersey and Colorado, are considering softening the requirements on utilities.

Brookfield Asset Management, a giant Canadian investment firm, will receive so many subsidies for a New Hampshire wind farm that they are worth 46 percent to 80 percent of the $229 million price of the project, when measured in today’s dollars, according to analyses for The Times performed by Booz and two other two industry financial experts. (The wide range reflects a disagreement between the experts on the future price of electricity in New Hampshire.)

Richard Legault, the chief executive of Brookfield Renewable Power, the division that oversees the Granite Reliable project in New Hampshire, declined to discuss his profit expectations in detail, but said the project might not have happened without government assistance.

“When everything has come together, it is a good investment for Brookfield, it is no doubt,” Mr. Legault said. “We are quite happy with it.” (Brookfield is also the owner of the small park in Manhattan that is home to the Occupy Wall Street protesters.)

Even companies whose business has little to do with energy or finance, like the Internet giant Google, benefit from the public subsidies. Google has invested in several renewable energy projects, including a giant solar plant in the California desert and a wind farm in Oregon, in part to get federal tax breaks that it can use to offset its profits from Web advertising.

Industry executives and other supporters of the subsidies say that the public money was vital to the projects, in part because financing for renewable energy projects dried up during the recession. They also note that more traditional energy sectors, like oil and natural gas, get heavy subsidies of their own. For example, in the 2010 fiscal year, the oil and gas producers got federal tax breaks of $2.7 billion, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration.

“These programs just level the playing field for what oil and gas and nuclear industries have enjoyed for the last 50 years,” said Rhone Resch, president of Solar Energy Industries Association. “Do you have to provide more policy support and funding initially? Absolutely. But the result is more energy security, clean energy and domestic jobs.”

Michael E. Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas, Austin, said renewable energy subsidies were a worthy investment. “It is a form of corporate welfare that is consistent with other social goals like job creation, clean air and boosting a domestic source of energy,” he said.

Overflowing Breaks

Obama administration officials said the subsidies were intended to help renewable-energy plants that were jumbo-sized or used innovative technology, both potential obstacles to getting private financing. But even proponents of the subsidies say the administration may have gone overboard.

Concerns that the government was being too generous reached all the way to President Obama. In an October 2010 memo prepared for the president, Lawrence H. Summers, then his top economic adviser; Carol M. Browner, then his adviser on energy matters; and Ronald A. Klain, then the vice president’s chief of staff, expressed discomfort with the “double dipping” that was starting to take place. They said investors had little “skin in the game.”

Officials involved in reviewing the loan applications said that Treasury Department officials pressed the Energy Department to respond to these concerns.

Officials at both agencies declined to discuss the anticipated financial returns of the clean-energy projects the federal government has agreed to guarantee, saying the information was confidential.

But Energy Department officials said they had carefully evaluated every project to try to calculate how much money the developers and investors stood to make. “They were rejected, if they looked too rich or too risky,” Mr. LaVera, the Energy Department spokesman said.

In at least one instance — NRG’s Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Ariz. — the Energy Department demanded that the company agree not to apply for a Treasury grant it was legally entitled to receive. The government was concerned the extra subsidy would result in excessive profit, NRG executives confirmed.

In other cases, the agency required that companies use most of the Treasury grants that they would get when construction was complete to pay down part of the government-guaranteed construction loans instead of cashing out the equity investors.

“The private sector really has more skin in the game than the public realizes,” said Andy Katell, a spokesman for GE Energy Financial Services, which like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other financial firms has large investments in several of these projects.

But there is no doubt that the deals are lucrative for the companies involved.

G.E., for example, lobbied Congress in 2009 to help expand the subsidy programs, and it now profits from every aspect of the boom in renewable-power plant construction.

It is also an investor in one solar and one wind project that have secured about $2 billion in federal loan guarantees and expects to collect nearly $1 billion in Treasury grants. The company has also won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to sell its turbines to wind plants built with public subsidies.

Mr. Katell said G.E. and other companies were simply “playing ball” under the rules set by Congress and the Obama administration to promote the industry. “It is good for the country, and good for our company,” he said.

Satya Kumar, an analyst at Credit Suisse who specializes in renewable energy companies, said there was no question the country would see real benefits from the surge in renewable energy projects.

“But the industry could have done a lot more solar for a lot less price, in terms of subsidy,” he said.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 18, 2011

An article on Saturday about public subsidies for renewable energy projects described incorrectly the earnings that the utility company NRG projected by 2015 from its solar projects. The company told investors that it expected the projects to generate $354 million annually in Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization; it did not project “more than $300 million a year in profits.” (While Ebitda is one common method of viewing profitability, “profits” is more typically used to describe pretax income, which the company said would be $49 million a year.)


  1. Only 1.6 Billion (PROJECTED)
    for 100,000 homes.

    Only 16 thousand projected per home.
    Then California Ratepayers get to PAY for this "free" solar power.

    Just like stimulus, Obama Cronies get the money, citizens and the economy loses, whereas if a fraction of the Billions spent had been loaned and granted to individuals for their own solar systems, everyone but the cronies would have won.

  2. wrt to our Nazi Capitalist System:
    Having corporate rates that are not competitive globally is a loser for all.

    Big guys don't pay now, so lowering them would not be a loss, esp if all loopholes and subsidies are eliminated with the lower rates.

    Contrary to the MeMe in the Quirk/Mat dustup:
    Small businesses, not just large corporations, are job creators.
    ...creating more new jobs, in fact.

    Very few small business owners are heartless Nazis.

  3. Yep, only $1,600.00/yr for 20 years to pay the thing off, and then virtually free power for another 40, 50, or 100 years with no cost of feedstock, and very little maintenance.

    Terrible, I say.

  4. You dumb fuck:

    They pay more than market rates for "free" energy for 20 years, then they STILL are captives of the utilities, and pay MORE for "free" energy, when they should OWN their own and get truly almost free energy.

  5. Washing a million solar panels is a not insignificant job, and requires very significant quantities of water in the middle of a desert.

  6. btw:
    Paying above market rates for electricity in California does not add up to "$ 1,600 / year" !

  7. If you could read you would see that the actual "subsidy" is $430 Million, plus whatever negligible risk that might arise from the loan guarantee.

    $150.00 to $180.00 Megawatt hr IS what consumers are currently paying (on average) in California With Rates as high as $350.00/MW hr during Peak Hours when Solar is strongest.

  8. Yes, and according to that left wing rag, the NY Times, residents will be paying MORE than those rates for 20 years!

    And when they have done that for twenty years, they OWN exactly SQUAT.

  9. Here is the rundown that runs up to almost the entire

    1.6 BILLION:

  10. "Negligible" indeed!

    ...since taxpayer and ratepayer dollars are free.

  11. What would they "own" if they had built a "gas-fired" plant?

    On top of the fact that they could be paying 4 or 5 more for gas than they are now?

  12. Some of us remember that $13.50 nat gas a couple of yearas ago (as opposed to the $3.50 nat gas of the present,) and read enough to know that that is what nat gas is selling for in Asia, Today.

  13. The yearly operating cost PAYING NO PROPERTY TAXES is about $100 Million a year.

    That's a thousand bucks a year, per house, for "free" energy.

    ...and when it is "paid off" the ratepayers keep right on paying!

  14. I know the Republican strategy is to keep drilling holes in the ground until the day when nothing more comes out, and then sit in the cold, and dark, and whine about why someone (probably the Democrats) hadn't had the foresight to develop an energy policy to transition onto something else.

  15. They would OWN Rooftop Solar if taxpayers/ratepayers were subsidized instead of billionaire cronies.

  16. ...and you keep digging this hole deeper!

  17. So, the Federals are subsidizing nuclear fusion collectors across the country.

    Better that than some other enterprizes that the Federals are subsidizing.

  18. It's those goddamned Republicans.

    Fuckin NY Times/MSM/Republican conspiracy at work.


  19. The Property tax savings is $14 Million/yr.

    That equals $140.00 per household.

    I imgagine there is a time limit on that, don't you?

  20. doug telling us that if we cannot have "perfection", we should throw out the "good", even if it is a better solution than the continuing status que.

    Advocating that we

    Stay the Course

    Because, if we had built subsidized gas or coal powered plants, the cronies would have been left, out in the cold?

    Not at all likely.

  21. Graft is good.

    As long as it is green.

    ...and ratepayers pay ad-infinitum!


  22. The main solar subsidy (the 30% Tax Credit/Grant,) along with the Ethanol subsidy ends on Dec 31, midnight.

    In spite of that, Renewable energy will still be the no 1 Growth Industry in 2012.

    To the bitter, bitter tears of the Oil/Gas/Coal guys.

  23. Better that the US comes to depend upon nuclear fusion, rather than fission, to energize the peak power demands of the electrical supply grid.

  24. I agree "rooftop" is better, but many roofs are shaded, or are just shaped wrong. Also, the "economies of scale" aren't nearly as far along for rooftop, as they are for "solar farms."

  25. Well, doug, here comes your deepest desire, the Federals are searching for ways to subsidize roof top solar, too.


    Roof Top Solar Challenge

    DOE is seeking applications for its Rooftop Solar Challenge. This Funding Opportunity Announcement represents a unique chance for local and regional teams to drive significant improvements in market conditions for rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) in their communities and throughout the United States. DOE anticipates providing funding for up to 25 awardees to address key market barriers, emphasizing streamlined and standardized permitting.

    Surely there'll be no grat involved.


  26. Surely there'll be no graft involved.


  27. In fact, California has a substantial program to subsidize roof top solar.

    Electricity from rooftop solar hits milestone in California

    Electricity generation by rooftop solar installations in California has surpassed the one-gigawatt mark, according to an analysis of a state incentives program.

    A gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts of generation capacity, is roughly enough energy to power 750,000 residences.

    The milestone puts the state on schedule to achieve a legislated goal of three gigawatts by 2016, according to the report released Wednesday by the Environment California Research & Policy Center.

    California, if it were its own country, would now rank sixth in the world for rooftop solar generation capacity. The leaders are Germany, with more than 16 gigawatts, followed by Spain, Japan, Italy and the Czech Republic.

    California had about 200 megawatts installed in 2006, when the state decided to devote $3.3 billion to incentives that make rooftop solar installations pay for themselves quicker.

    Since then, the rooftop market has grown by about 40 percent each year, according to the study.

    The California Public Utilities Commission said about 60 percent of the state's rooftop solar was aided by its California Solar Initiative, which provides incentives to customers of the state's three investor-owned utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric.

  28. Nuclear fusion, it's the coming thing, in energy generation.

  29. So, at least in California, the "Powers That BE", are tracking on the course that suits doug's desires.

    We'll see how boisterous he is, in approval of California's progress upon the course he advocates.

  30. I read an article on that the other day, Rat. It seems that, behind the scenes, some of those utilities are fighting back hard.

    Their main tactic is to go reeeaaly slow on the permitting, etc.

    Also, the red tape from the municipalities, themselves, is mind-boggling. This all adds quite a bit more cost than you would probably run into some place such as Arizona, or Texas.

    But, the people/companies are working around it, and getting the job done. A LOT of school systems, and Universities are "going solar."

  31. "Euro crisis strikes core

    The failure of a German bond auction today suggests the debt crisis has now struck the very heart of Europe, raising the stakes not only for the monetary union but for the global economy as the continent also plunges toward recession."

    As was meandering into work this morning I was thinking how 7-8% yields really shouldn't be considered "stratospheric" but yields like that would certainly....ummmm....negatively affect the US budget.

  32. It Is interesting that the LA Utility that utilizes the most Renewable Energy is the one that has the lowest rates.

  33. Just the challenges the Federal "Funding Opportunity" are going to address, rufus.

  34. Well, ash, I've got a few loans lent that pay 7%. It is what we've used as the "carry back" rate, for years now.

    The Federals will monetize the debt, before they pay 7%.

    The currency is just a scrip.

    The Federals decided that Social Security was not really insurance, in 1960, when the Supremes ruled so in Flemming v. Nestor.

    Yet the Federals continued to market it to the public as an insurance program, regardless.

    Those in the power loop have no alliance with "Truth, Justice, or the American Way".

    The reality of FICA taxes and Fleming v. Nestor tells the tale of Federal malfeasance.

    One should not think they'll behave honorably when it comes to the value of the scrip.

  35. I agree rat which is one of the reasons that I believe, once the Euro crisis plays out, that the US bond market will suffer mightily.

  36. My local Walmart store just installed roof top solar.

    Whatever subsidies are available, I'm sure they were utilized.

  37. boobie was telling US that the UC Davis police were an extension of State, exercising their Executive Powers.

    While it seems that they were just "Rouges".

    UC Davis chancellor: Police defied my orders by using pepper spray

    Los Angeles Times -

    UC Davis' embattled chancellor said campus police officers defied her orders when they used pepper spray on peaceful Occupy protesters last week.

    Hopefully that police officer will be arrested and charged with battery by the end of the day.

  38. Haaretz reports:

    Russian warships are due to arrive at Syrian territorial waters, a Syrian news agency said on Thursday, indicating that the move represented a clear message to the West that Moscow would resist any foreign intervention in the country's civil unrest.

  39. .

    Contrary to the MeMe in the Quirk/Mat dustup:
    Small businesses, not just large corporations, are job creators.

    Doug continues to show the true nit in his wit.

    With your use of the term MeMe you once again illustrate the bifurcated way in which your mind works. There is nothing similar between me and Mats.

    Mats views corporations from the viewpoint of a victim, one more group out there planning purposely to "get him".

    I view corporations as being merely amoral, the larger they are the more amoral they are, no point in bringing in references to good or evil.

    My post was about corporate taxes and the effectiveness of a reduction in corporate tax rates vis-a-vis job promotion. I have no problem bringing down the corporate tax rate to an average worldwide rate if the reduction is tied to elimination of all the current loopholes which, as you pointed out, moves the current effective tax rate to below the worldwide norm.

    The GOP has suggested just this. However, as the current Supercommittee negotiations have shown us, they are not really serious about negotiating. The only cuts the GOP have talked about are cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, SS, the mortgage interest deduction, the charity deduction, etc. etc. etc. With the corporate reductions it always seems to be, "Well, we'll get to those eventually."

    With regard to small businesses that wasn't even part of the discussion between Mats and me. And you seem to forget it was me that posted the study that showed that it wasn't the small businesses that were the chief job providers but rather the start-up businesses.


  40. .

    Yep, only $1,600.00/yr for 20 years to pay the thing off, and then virtually free power for another 40, 50, or 100 years with no cost of feedstock, and very little maintenance.

    This is the reason it's difficult to take you serious about anything on this subject Ruf. Talking about "free" energy or $.02 costs in a taco.

    Anyone who thinks someone is going to be paying less for energy 20 years from now than they are today has in my opinion been drinking too much ethanol.


  41. So, Q, you're not a believer in nuclear fusion powering the future?

    Is that because there is no need to capitalize the reactor?

    The life span of a well maintained collector is almost unlimited.
    Well into decades of useful use, with no discernible degradation of performance..

    Well beyond the life of the loans that will finance the installation costs.

    Nuclear fusion is the future, for both our peak electrical needs and the fluid fuels for our vehicle fleet.

  42. You are up against it, Quirk.

    You are trying to keep the discussions here anchored to some kind of reality.

    Good luck with that.


  43. ole b touting reality based discussions... how time ushers change!

  44. In 20 years most of us will be paying nothing at all for energy.


  45. How's the golf game, Ash?

    You haven't given us a report lately.


  46. .

    So, Q, you're not a believer in nuclear fusion powering the future?

    Christ rat, you too.

    Are you that obtuse? Can't you read English? Obviously, there is a failure to communicate here.

    I have nothing against ethanol, wind, solar, geothermal. What I do object to is the pollyanish prattling of two nitwits. Free energy! Or your claim a year and a half ago that within a year we could have enough ethanol to wean us off imported oil.

    And if you don't realize that the current 'green energy' push by the government is largely inefficient and costly and is being milked by firms right and left to dip their beaks and get their share of the pie, then your nuts.

    I have no problem with the trends in energy evolution. What I have a problem with are those who say it will happen tomarrow and will cost us nothing.


  47. Regarding the electrical energy generated from Hoover Dam, much the same case can be made.

    The Dam was built and then paid for, years ago. The capital costs recovered.

    It generating "free" power, after factoring maintenance costs and mechanical upgrades.

    The Hoover Dam, built in the Thirties during the Great Depression, is a majestic structure and considered by experts to be one of the five greatest building projects ever. It was conceived by a small group of people with three objectives:

    Control the flash flooding in the late spring caused by melting snow in the mountains
    Provide a consistent supply of water to seven states along the Colorado River
    Provide electricity to the fast growing southwestern US

    The Dam was built primarily with private money by Six Companies, Inc at a cost of around $42 million. It was completed in 1935, two years ahead of schedule and $2 million below budget. The sale of electricity to surrounding areas since completion of the Dam has paid off the debt as well as covered the annual maintenance and operating costs.

    Today we constantly hear about our government providing stimulus money to fund projects to help jumpstart our economy. Often times the stimulus funding is a full payment by the government with no payback scenario. This type of project funding does nothing but add to our ever increasing budget deficit.

    Instead of our government strictly subsidizing projects, it would be nice to see other funding examples like the Hoover Dam, where the project is paid for by its derived benefits.

    John Marklin

  48. Q, remember your first PC? I do. Its power was calculated in kilobytes, and it cost over $3,000.00 (probably more than $6,000.00 in current dollars.)

    The one I'm typing on, now, has a few gazillion bytes of everything, and cost $328.00 + tax. :)

    Yeah, I believe Electricity could be cheaper (in states with a lot of renewables, anyway) in twenty years than it is, today.

    I'm quite positive that the average person will pay, in Real terms, a lower cost per mile than they're paying today.

  49. .

    The Dam was built primarily with private money by Six Companies, Inc at a cost of around $42 million. It was completed in 1935, two years ahead of schedule and $2 million below budget. The sale of electricity to surrounding areas since completion of the Dam has paid off the debt as well as covered the annual maintenance and operating costs.

    Gee, so now those customers should be getting their electricity practically free, right.


  50. The value of the energy generated over the life span of the generating capacity far exceeds the construction costs.

    This is quite true of the current generation of photovoltaic collectors. They have a life span projected to be century, plus.

    I do not recall saying that the US could construct the needed distilleries to replace oil imports in a year.

    I doubt I said that, as I have never considered oil from Mexico or Canada to be "imported".

    I may have said that we could replace Persian Gulf oil in a year.
    That would be something I'd have said.

    Which we probably could do. I would have positively napkined the idea before I made the claim.

    That'd be what, about 700 million 42 gallon barrels a year?

  51. .

    Q, remember your first PC? I do. Its power was calculated in kilobytes, and it cost over $3,000.00 (probably more than $6,000.00 in current dollars.)

    You do realize that applying Moore's Law to ethanol or wind power is not a viable argument, right.


  52. .

    I'm quite positive that the average person will pay, in Real terms, a lower cost per mile than they're paying today.

    Possible, but it may have little to do with a switch to ethanol.


  53. Oh, not free at all, to the consumer.

    But they would be "free and clear" to the original owners of the power generating rights, if they have not sold those rights off.

    Now, if a homeowner installed a sufficient roof top system, and remained in the house for considerably more than the average seven years, it could become "free" to him, at some point.

    At my mountain retreat, which is off grid, I have lights and music for $300 in capital costs, for collectors and batteries.

    The ongoing cost of that electricity, well, kind of seems like "free", to me.

  54. Q, I think you could get "Moore's Lawish" when you start looking into biotechnology.

    An ex: The enzymes for pretreating cellulose for ethanol production have Fallen by 90% in just a couple of years.

    They've found that they can introduce a gene from the corn plant into switchgrass, and increase the sugar content by 250%.

    We had a much better corn harvest this year than we would have had under similar weather (drought) conditions just a few years ago.

    So, yes, my "cost per mile" projections have Everything to do with ethanol.

  55. .

    I don't object to renewable energy. I object to the mindset that buys into any propaganda put out by the 'green energy' cabal, ignores any offsetting costs for these technologies, and downplays the billions being wasted by the government in subsidies, grants, and loan guarantees.

    Doug posted this article today. I put up a link to it a week ago. In response, you put up a link from some green energy blog offering a rebuttal. I read the first couple paragraphs. It was laughable.

    Green energy will get here when it gets here. Rosy stories from you and rat or cautions from me and Doug aren't going to change that reality.


  56. .

    It's a beauty day here in MI.

    I've been trying to confine my posting here to early morning or late evening.

    I'm heading out.


  57. And, the advances in photovoltaic technology have been enormous, also. Solyndra got in trouble because they were thinking their solar panels that cost $6.00/Watt to produce would be competitive.

    First Solar is producing thin-film for $0.74/Watt, and figure they'll be at $0.52/Watt in two years.

  58. Be careful, Q. I'm afraid you're developing "hardening of the attitudes."

    It's more dangerous than hardening of the "arteries."

  59. Golf season is ending here in Canada. Most courses are closed but the weather forecast for Friday looks nice and I've found a few course still open...

    20 years to break even doesn't sound like such a good deal to me...

  60. There are solar and wind projects that break even from Day One compared to Fossil Fuels, and God help us, Nuclear, Ash.

    The Big thing is: I can tell you with 100% accuracy what the "feedstock" costs will be for Wind, and Solar ten years from now.

    Can you do the same with Nat Gas (keeping in mind that it is selling for $13.50/kcuft in Asia, today,) or for Coal (presently selling for $126.00/Tonne in China?)

  61. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  62. Only BUTTERBALL is processing its turkeys to muzzie halal standards.

    Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

    hide details 12:06 PM (1 hour ago)



    But Dale failed to include the reading material anyway I thought I best tip you off. You've been warned.

    gobble gobble


  63. Unlike a parade or a one-day march, the Occupy protests are in their third month in some cities and show no signs of easing up, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank for police chiefs.

    “You’re dealing with 50 to 75 cities where this is going on. In some cities it’s a minimal expense.

    In some cities, it’s considerable,” he said. “For a city that has slashed overtime, this has an impact.

  64. U.S. Food Companies “Blessing” Food in the Name of Allah
    Filed under
    Business, Islam, Religion
    Comments (285)


    we learn that big-name food producing companies are following Islamic halal standards. Here’s a story reported by WorldNetDaily:

    As you sit down with your family on Thanksgiving and consider offering a prayer of gratitude, be aware the turkey at the center of the table may have already been “blessed” – in the name of Allah.

    Customer service representatives from Butterball, one of America’s most popular Turkey brands, confirmed to WND that the company’s whole turkeys are – without being labeled as such – slaughtered according to Islamic “halal” standards.

    “Halal slaughter involves cutting the trachea, the esophagus and the jugular vein and letting the blood drain out while saying, ‘Bismillah allahu akbar’ – ‘in the name of Allah the greatest,’” explains Pamela Geller, author of “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.” “Many people refuse to eat it on religious grounds. Many Christians, Hindus or Sikhs and Jews find it offensive to eat meat slaughtered according to Islamic ritual.”
    Post Continues on

    Keeping you informed concerning your Thanksgiving meal.


  65. The Republican presidential candidates clashed repeatedly over foreign policy and national security issues Tuesday night, revealing clear differences on the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan, the Iranian threat, immigration, and the balance between protecting the homeland and preserving civil liberties.


    One of the sharpest exchanges came between Romney and Huntsman over Afghanistan. Romney argued that Obama was moving too rapidly to bring out U.S. troops and said he favors maintaining a substantial presence for several more years.


    When the debate turned to immigration, it produced an answer from Gingrich that will remain a topic of discussion. The former House speaker said that newly arrived illegal immigrants should be expelled.

  66. Crap, Sam: Looks like you and I both missed Deuce's last post.

    I'll ask him to put it in it's rightful place, being that I missed Quirk's previous link, also!

  67. What?

    Are you talking the Gingrich/Perry post?

  68. That was my post and Doug walked all over me, boo hoo.

  69. In his address, Tantawi rejected all criticism of the military's handling of the transitional period and sought to cast himself and the generals on the military council he heads as the nation's foremost patriots. Significantly, he did not mention the protesters gathered in Tahrir Square or elsewhere in the country.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's strongest and best organized group, is not taking part in the ongoing protests in a move that is widely interpreted to be a reflection of its desire not to do anything that could derail a parliamentary election it is sure to dominate.

    Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters, however, have defied the leadership and joined the crowds on the square.