The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore

Reader Martin Karo brings us up to date on a story that has not received anywhere near enough attention:

No doubt most readers know of the $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar plant, a huge project in the Mojave Desert which is easily visible from many planes flying in the Los Angeles – Las Vegas vicinity. It has been controversial from even before its start — it required relocating large numbers of desert tortoises — and since startup for the birds it has killed and the menace it poses to aviation. Oh, and to the climate also; ironically, Ivanpah requires natural gas to operate, and 60 percent more of that than originally estimated, producing greenhouse gases that (per Mann and co.) menace the planet.

But the chief menace is to the public fisc, a well the well-heeled owners of Ivanpah, Google and NRG Energy, seek to revisit. Ivanpah owes its entire existence to taxpayer money and administrative mandates. The plant was originally funded by an Obama administration $1.6 billion DOE guaranteed loan. (How the DOE could have granted the loan after the same program swallowed billions of taxpayers’ money when First Solar, Solyndra, Abound Solar, Fisker, et al. went under, and in light of the risk factors that Ivanpah’s owners admitted to in an abortive IPO attempt, remains as transparent as the Obama administration generally.} The remaining $600 Million was financed in the main through electricity futures contracts with California power companies, mandated by the State of California — the Golden State will require its utilities to provide 30% of their power from “renewable” sources — not to mention Google-NRG get $660 Million in tax credits under the original ARRA, a/k/a “the Obama Stimulus.” What, you thought $1 trillion was all the Stimulus cost? Oh, no, Obama subsidies are the gifts that keep on giving.

Unfortunately for Google and NRG, Ivanpah only produces a quarter of the power it was supposed to. Since Ivanpah isn’t producing enough electricity to meet payments on its loan, Google and NRG quietly asked the Department of Energy for a $540 million federal grant to pay down their $1.6 Billion federal loan. Oh, and to get an extension on loan payments until the ARRA tax credits arrive.

The sheer temerity of the request is almost outweighed by the unintended humor of their explanation for the failure of their project: the Sun isn’t shining as much as they thought it would. But I think they’re barking up the wrong tree: rather than ask for your money so they don’t have to use their money, they should ask the guy who said he would make the oceans recede, to order the Sun to stop slacking — rudely continuing to shine as it has for five billion years — and brighten up for Google, NRG, and Obama’s legacy.

Cue the Walker Brothers.

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