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Solar Firms Under Investigation For Stimulus Swindle

A new regular feature on the Bail, John provides a weekly update on corruption, graft and waste in the green energy sector.


Report: Solar firms under investigation for stimulus swindle

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.

Obama To Help Thriving 'Fracking' Industry Set Up Shop In China

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.”

Cleantech companies look to follow SolarCity to IPO

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.

Top wind industry lobbyist to resign

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.

Former head of Energy Dept. research agency heads to Google

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.

IPCC AR5 draft leaked, contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing – as well as a lack of warming to match model projections, and reversal on ‘extreme weather’

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:

Draft IPCC report leaked (so overwhelming it has to be kept secret!)

Experts call for an end to mega climate summits

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.

Global Warming Afforded The Same Legal Status as Religion in UK

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.

ERG rises on 1.1 billion deal for GDF-SUEZ assets

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.

More Here

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.

More Details Here

Note: GDF Suez has operations here providing spinning and non-spinning reserve services and IVPC is associated with First Wind/UPC.

Enron's Harvard Entanglements

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.

Harvard needs remedial energy math

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?

Internal watchdog launches RPA email probe

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.

Committee leaders call on DOE to release secret data behind loomimg air rule

Sen. Boxer firms up senate climate change clearinghouse plan

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.

Utilities with large amounts of wind generation steadfastly refuse to release operating data for analysis

“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.”

Random Notes

Steve Peacock has an energy page:http://www.tradeaidmonitor.com/energy/

And a page for China too: http://www.tradeaidmonitor.com/china/


Read Last Week's Green Corruption Stories...



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Reader Comments (35)

Good stuff, john. Great work as always.
Dec 19, 2012 at 2:40 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
BUSTED: Deutsche Bank Raided In Carbon Tax Fraud


Last week's links.
Dec 19, 2012 at 2:42 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Thanks again DB!

Here is a flashback from the way back machine regarding Arthur Anderson and the crooked E...

Dec 19, 2012 at 6:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Great work, John! I'm wondering why SunPower has escaped the attention of the US Office of Inspector General.

SunPower: Twice As Bad As Solyndra, Twice As Bad For Obama
Congressman's son lobbied for failing solar panel company
by Neil W. McCabe

"How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project—three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project.

The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization. If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain..." [cut] continue reading:

Dec 19, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Durkin
"Hidden" green stimulus theft vs. outright theft of taxpayer money:


You think GM will run a commercial glorifying the loss? Or will they keep reposting the one where they paid back their loan, with interest?

You think Steve "the rat" Rattner will be making the talk show rounds arrogantly espousing his BS about how he saved GM?

God help us all, everyone! (credit to Dickens' Tiny Tim)
Dec 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosie
Excellent round up John!!

That Larry Summer's oh boy there's a lot more dirt on him


Larry Summers Put Harvard Near Bankruptcy. Guess Where He is Now?


Why Larry Summers lost the presidency of Harvard

Dec 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterLadyLiberty
Thanks Barb and LL. The dirt on L.S. goes back to the Enron days (among one very specific incident), that is why I picked on Harvard a bit here. Yale is next.
Dec 19, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Great info John, thanks.
Dec 20, 2012 at 4:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change
Evidence points to a further rise of just 1°C by 2100. The net effect on the planet may actually be beneficial.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Yale Endowment-Angus King Project and First Wind Project Referenced in DOE Loan Guarantee Lawsuit

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Dec 20, 2012 at 6:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Obama energy chief backs effort to encourage renewable investments



The Obama administration lent its support Wednesday to a congressional effort that would open a financing structure for renewable energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu called on Congress to approve legislation that would let investors utilize master limited partnerships for renewable energy, which he said would spur development.
“It’s a world of difference and it will have a profound effect on capital private investment,” Chu said during an Energy Department event on wind energy.
Dec 20, 2012 at 7:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
First Wind Going Solar...


First Wind, whose name reveals its historical alliance with a specific form of renewable energy, is making a strategic shift toward the sun, with plans to build large solar projects across the state.
The Boston-based wind-energy developer, which already has developed four such projects in Hawaii, says it has maxed out its potential for that kind of project locally. In 2013 and beyond, it is putting its focus on a soon-to-be-released request for proposals for 200 megawatts of renewable energy from Hawaiian Electric Co., which could include solar.
“It’s fair to say, going forward, we are looking at more solar ...
Dec 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
I apologize for posting so many updates. I am expecting fast moving events to take up a lot of time in the upcoming days and will need to watch this fridays news cycle carefully. That said...

TAYLOR AND TANTON: Blow off wind-production tax credit
Expensive source can’t compete

Dec 20, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Are the tax credits to expire this year? Do we need to contact our elected officials to start the ball rolling to let this thing die a legitimate death.
Dec 20, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
A decision is about to be made regarding the PTC. I expect an announcement probably over the holiday when no one is looking (except for me and a few others). Feel free to contact your rep and express your concern. Thanks.
Dec 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Yale sells out to Singapore. Totally following the company line there. Sell outs. That is the light and truth to Yale. Cunce.
Dec 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Damn John, That whole picture in Maine of the massive selling of land. $125-$200 PER ACRE. Have you ever known land to go that cheap and were you ever able to get in on some of that action. The whole green thing to offset carbon credits is interesting to and the other thing that I believe worth looking into is the Marcellus Shale region which should be close to there so I think that on top of getting green credits they can lease the land for fracking natural gas. It just is plain too much. Oh and lets not forget the taxpayer is getting totally screwed on this one. As usual. Christ almighty.
Dec 30, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
How about this.............. The Gold Confiscation Myth

No gold was confiscated in 1933

Dec 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTexas Dar

December 31, 2012 1:24 pm

Iberdrola offloads French wind farm

Iberdrola is selling 32 French wind farms to a consortium including General Electric for €400m, part of a big divestment programme aimed at reducing debt at Spain’s largest utility by market value.

Iberdrola, which is the world’s largest operator of wind farms, has been hit by a fall in power demand in recession-hit Spain and by big credit downgrades of the Spanish government that have put its investment-grade rating under pressure.
Jan 1, 2013 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn
Folks, pay attention to the energy sector. This has been a marathon week as I had suspected with a LOT of movement here and abroad. There have been many new developments including a sell out (BAILOUT) by congress for the wind fiasco. Some of you may remember the challenge to the US Supreme Court regarding Obamacare. The court ruled that it was legal because it was a tax. That in mind, I firmly believe a carbon tax is on the table and the USSC ruling affirms any push for it by congress, and I expect it will happen.

We have already seen the corruption of the Banks go unpunished, and even rewarded and you can bet your ass that the same will apply here.

Bill Black recently wrote this essay:



A little bit of economics can be a truly terrible thing, for the introductory classes in micro and macro-economics are the most dogmatic and myth-filled part of the neoliberal curriculum. Dogmas that have been falsified for 75 years (such as austerity) are taught as revealed truth. The poor indoctrinated student is then launched into the world "knowing" that austerity is the answer and that mass unemployment and prolonged recessions are small prices to be paid (by others) to achieve the holy grail of a balanced budget. Students are taught that national budgets are really just like household budgets.

These dogmas are not simply false, they are self-destructive and cruel. Neoliberal economics is so bad and has gone downhill at such a rapid rate that it now worships the economic analog to bleeding patients -- austerity -- as a response to a Great Recession. Millions of people are indoctrinated annually into believing this long-falsified nonsense, and that includes people who consider themselves progressives...

That said, happy austerity 2013.

Now get off your asses and do something about it.
Jan 1, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Wind industry: Tax breaks key
Credits due to expire unless Congress acts help stabilize the market for six Maine projects as they try to boost their output.



Maine's six major wind-energy projects are generating power at about a quarter of their capacity -- a performance level that illustrates why wind-power developers are pushing Congress to extend the tax breaks that are critical to the industry's survival.

While that power output may seem low, it reflects regional wind conditions and technology limitations. The U.S. Department of Energy found that wind farms in New England operated at an average capacity of 28 percent in 2011, the second-lowest in the country behind the East. By comparison, the highest capacity factors are in the wind-swept Midwest, averaging 37 percent.
Jan 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Jan 2, 2013 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Thank God. Apparently John, phone calls do not work. Guess there weren't enough of them.
Jan 2, 2013 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Glad to learn that Issa is still fighting this $12 billion dollar waste, PTC extension to Big Wind. Thanks, John. It's the best news of the day.

The abysmal capacity you provide for ME wind projects is a problem compounded. Ratepayers of New England must pay for a Central Maine Power's transmission line that we were told would be capable of accepting wind energy---for our estimated $1.4 Billion. But, Boston-based First Wind (5 renewable projects) threaten this grid stability, and ignite blackout concerns for Southern states. That would be us.


I agree with you about the energy sector being something to watch, not to be taken for granted.

Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Durkin
For the readers here, CMP (Central Maine Power) is owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish company who also operates in upstate NY. I have a story regrading them in my next feature. I will also add that several of the largest wind farms in Upstate NY owned by UPC/First Wind use the defunct Clipper Wind Turbines.
Jan 3, 2013 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Buffet is in. I would think that there will be no change in the governments tax breaks for the solar or wind industries.



Domestic oil and gas is also a big player obviously.



I find it odd that the president thinks that states should continue to regulate the gas industries. He is such a federally that this seems quite strange. Alas, the old adage of follow the money applies here while we will get stuck holding the bag for carbon taxes. What has our country come to?
Let's also figure in some of the land grabs by Chesapeake and others. I would figure John, that some of these large landowners would have mineral rights as well as wanting to put wind or solar projects on these lands at taxpayer expense of course. Don't know if there is any tie in with the natural gas stuff at all but would suspect as much.
Jan 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Skin, Chesapeake made the news recently and you make other good points. Barb was blocked by the Boston Globe from commenting with damning info. The shit is about to fly.
Jan 3, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn
My guess John, is that he will eating a lot of meals with chop sticks out of deference to the folks who own him.
Jan 29, 2013 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Skin, stay tuned...
Jan 29, 2013 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Maine senator unveils unprecedented federal distributed energy bill


Distributed energy resources (DERs) are the focus of energy industry and policy debates across the country, but up to this point virtually all the action has taken place at the state level. Because state regulatory commissions typically govern the utilities in their jurisdiction, the battles over the interconnection, siting, and value of DERs have played out almost exclusively in the states. The federal government has had precious little to do with the issue.

But that may be about to change if Sen. Angus King (I-ME) has his way. The senator, who caucuses with Democrats, plans to unveil the Free Market Energy Act of 2015 on Wednesday. An amendment to the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) of 1978, the bill could dramatically alter market structures and regulations for DERs nationwide.

The goal of the legislation, King told Utility Dive in an interview, is to codify a right of interconnection for DERs and guide states toward a policy framework to better assess their full value and encourage their proliferation.

PURPA works just fine. I see a trojan horse here. There will be a lot of energy bills submitted this week and this needs to be watched carefully. Here is a recent PURPA case:

FERC Protects a QF’s PURPA Right to Sell Net Output


On January 22, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order reaffirming a qualifying facility’s (QF) right to sell all of its net output to a utility under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). In an order partially granting a complaint filed by PáTu Wind Farm, LLC (PáTu) against Portland General Electric Company (Portland General) regarding PáTu’s rights under Section 210 of PURPA, FERC determined that Portland General had an obligation to purchase and compensate PáTu – a QF with variable output – for its entire net output, and could not use transmission scheduling requirements as a basis to avoid this obligation.1 This order could prove significant for QFs and utilities alike as FERC decided the dispute largely based on the more generally applicable mandatory purchase requirements under PURPA, rather than the transmission scheduling dispute that was the primary focus of the parties’ briefs.

PáTu’s Focus on Dynamic Scheduling PáTu sells power to Portland General pursuant to a Public Utility Commission of Oregon (Oregon Commission) standard PURPA contract for off-system, intermittent-resource QFs of less than 10 MW. PáTu relies on Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission system to deliver its power to Portland General’s system at its Troutdale substation. BPA offered PáTu dynamic scheduling service, which would allow for scheduling and delivery of PáTu’s precise, instantaneous output to Portland General, while avoiding paying for BPA’s Generator Imbalance Service, Wind Regulating Reserves, Wind Following Reserves, and Wind Imbalance Service. However, PáTu alleged that Portland General would not accept PáTu’s deliveries via dynamic scheduling. PáTu alleged that Portland General also refused to accept 15-minute scheduling as an alternative to dynamic scheduling. Instead, PáTu alleged that Portland General would only agree to accept delivery of power by PáTu in hourly, prescheduled MW-hour blocks. According to PáTu, Portland General decided that when PáTu’s delivered power varied from its hourly schedule, Portland General, in the case of over-generation, would not compensate PáTu for any excess power delivered, and in the case of under-generation, would pay market index rates (rather than PáTu’s contract rate) for electricity provided by BPA to fill in hourly blocks. PáTu alleged these decisions by Portland General were driven by commercial considerations of Portland General’s merchant function and not its transmission function.
May 9, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterJohn

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