A new regular feature on the Bail, John provides a weekly update on corruption, graft and waste in the green energy sector.
The nation’s three most productive solar installation firms are under investigation for allegedly exaggerating business costs to get larger cash payments through a federal stimulus program.The Treasury Department’s inspector general is asking SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity to justify the more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits they got for their work, according to The Washington Post. The companies in question received payments through Treasury’s 1603 program, which was designed to increase renewable energy use.
Providers of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” equipment and services are eyeing the Chinese market to expand their offerings—and the Obama Administration initially will cough up $378,000 so the industry can travel to China to further examine such potential opportunities. The U.S. Trade & Development Agency (USTDA), an independent White House agency, is providing the grant for what it calls the U.S.-China Shale Gas Training Program, which will “help introduce Chinese energy sector officials and project sponsors to U.S. shale gas best practices, policies and technologies.”
SolarCity's successful market debut could warm up the chilly environment for stocks of alternative energy companies. The San Mateo solar installer had a difficult journey to becoming a public company this week, but the deal is viewed as a success in the beleaguered clean energy technology industry and good news for start-ups hoping to ride its coattails to public offerings next year.
Denise Bode, chief executive with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), will leave her post Jan. 1 after four years at the head of the organization. She will return to private practice as a tax attorney.
The former head of an Energy Department research and development program is heading to Google to lead its energy strategy. Arun Majumdar will join Google after leaving his most recent post as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) in June. “One of the world’s biggest challenges is bringing reliable, sustainable and affordable energy to everyone. We need a new energy blueprint for the future — the latest advances in technology have the potential to bring us closer to that goal than ever before,” Matthew Stepka, vice president of Google.org, said Monday of Majumdar’s hiring on the Internet giant’s green blog.
I participated in “expert review” of the Second Order Draft of AR5 (the next IPCC report), Working Group 1 (“The Scientific Basis”), and am now making the full draft available to the public. I believe that the leaking of this draft is entirely legal, that the taxpayer funded report report is properly in the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and that making it available to the public is in any case protected by established legal and ethical standards, but web hosting companies are not in the business of making such determinations so interested readers are encouraged to please download copies of the report for further dissemination in case this content is removed as a possible terms-of-service violation. My reasons for leaking the report are explained below.
Here are the chapters:
The feeling of déjà vu was difficult to ignore. Immediately following the recently ended climate conference in Doha, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier insisted that the gathering had "opened the door to the future of international climate protection." It was a comment reminiscent of so many attempts by top politicians in recent years to sell yet another failed climate summit as a success. This year, the summit barely avoided collapse by forging a last-minute agreement that the 2015 meeting would be the one at which a global emissions reduction deal would be decided. That such a deal was supposed to be produced at the 2009 summit in Copenhagen seems to have been largely forgotten.
Even the definition of success has been dramatically diminished. The conference, said Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, the long-serving climate advisor to the government in Berlin, can be "counted as a success because a collapse of the arduous United Nations process was avoided." Top climate researchers have had enough, though. Several leading experts at internationally renowned institutes in Germany are demanding an end to the climate summit charade. It is time to begin confronting the reality of a warmer future rather than meekly insisting that global warming can be slowed without taking action to make that happen, they say.
In an unusual case in the United Kingdom, it has been ruled that climate change beliefs should be afforded the same legal protections as religious freedoms. The bizarre ruling sets a landmark legal precedent and could have broad implications both in Britain and abroad.
Action in Italy
ERG will pay 28.2 million euros for 80 percent of GDF Suez’s IP Maestrale Investments unit, which has 636 megawatts of wind power in Italy and Germany, the Milan-based company said in a statement late yesterday. The enterprise value of the transaction, including debt and equity, is 859 million euros.
Flashback Regarding IP Maestrale
By Guy Dinmore in Financial Times, November 12, 2009
“President of Italian Wind Energy Association arrested for fraud By Guy Dinmore in Financial Times, November 12, 2009 “Gone with the wind”, mounted by the finance ministry’s anti-fraud police, started in 2007 and began by blocking public subsidies worth €9.4m ($14m, £8.4m) granted by the ministry for economic development. Last year police confiscated seven wind farms with 185 turbines in Sicily linked to IVPC. Anti-Mafia prosecutors in Sicily have launched a parallel investigation. The Financial Times was told in April that a large number of wind farms had been built with public subsidies but had never functioned. Police said yesterday they had sent requests for documentation to five foreign companies – two in the Netherlands and three in Spain – that were linked to IVPC. Other companies in Ireland and the UK, said to be Italian affiliates of IVPC, have been asked by Italian authorities to provide information. Police also said they were carrying out checks on 12 companies in Italy, including nine with company names that are variations of IP Maestrale and which share the same street name and number as IVPC in Avellino, near Naples.
Note: GDF Suez has operations here providing spinning and non-spinning reserve services and IVPC is associated with First Wind/UPC.
Absolute Must Read
HarvardWatch is a broad-based coalition of students and alumni across the University’s schools concerned with corporate governance at Harvard. The independent and unaffiliated organization advocates a more transparent and accountable administration responsive to the concerns of Harvard students, alumni, and staff. HarvardWatch publicizes information about the nature of Harvard’s governance system and investments in an effort to improve the functioning of the University; members of HarvardWatch want the University to be the best it can be.
The opaque, unelected seven-member Harvard Corporation is the University’s highest governing body, and does not release their meeting times, places, agendas, or notes; moreover, there is no process to appeal Corporation decisions, and the Corporation refuses to meet with members of the Harvard community to explain its decisions or its decision-making process. HarvardWatch believes that reform is urgently needed and is overwhelmingly in the best interests of all of Harvard University.
Note: Former Harvard President, Larry Summers, is now part owner of First Wind.
With about half of the student body polled, 72% of Harvard undergrads voted for the university to Go Fossil Free, reports energy scholar Robert Bryce in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Harvard is renowned for educating the ‘best and brightest.’ Should U.S. and global policymakers do as these ivy leaguers say?
Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight and Investigations subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) want to know how those accounts are used, if they exist. Melanie Sloan, executive director with watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Hill that the separate accounts might not be limited to the EPA.
Sloan said her group has sent Freedom of Information Act requests to several other federal agencies about possible use of separate email accounts. “I expect this to be shut down and for the administrator to no longer maintain a non-identifiable email account. And I think there’s a question now of whether other agencies do this,” Sloan said.
Senate Democrats — and any interested Republicans — will huddle weekly on climate change in the next Congress in an “open forum” to help craft and support legislation, the plan’s architect said. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told The Hill on Tuesday that the “climate change clearinghouse” will also focus on working with the Obama administration and keeping members of abreast of the latest science.
I will be keeping everyone abreast on the science too, among other things.
“Forgotten by many proponents is the justification for the PTC in the first place: to reduce CO2 emissions…. [Yet] … many utilities with large amounts of wind generation steadfastly refuse to release operating data for analysis. I suspect to do so would mean the release of empirical data to build the opposition’s case for insignificant CO2reduction and poor operating economics. I was unable to find one study of existing wind energy installations that found the CO2reductions predicted by AWEA.”
Steve Peacock has an energy page:http://www.tradeaidmonitor.com/energy/
And a page for China too: http://www.tradeaidmonitor.com/china/