Obama’s Energy Program Lacks Any Real Spark

In a speech delivered earlier this year at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama proclaimed the United States would adopt a clean-energy standard that requires 80 percent of electricity be generated from clean sources by 2035.

His administration defines “clean energy” as nuclear, natural gas and clean coal, as well as renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Since the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra has put solar energy in the news for all the wrong reasons, it’s baffling to hear the Department of Energy boast that “solar power will grow steadily, producing nearly a quarter of the world’s electricity within four decades. In the past year alone, grid-connected photovoltaic installations in the U.S. have increased by 69 percent.”

So if solar is going gangbusters, how can the administration explain Solyndra squandering a $535 million taxpayer loan from the Department of Energy? What’s even more maddening is that people close to Solyndra suspected the company was cooking its books for the past few years.

At least the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) was not fooled. They turned the deal down as “not ready for prime time” but the administration rushed the loan through anyway so the groundbreaking ceremony of their ritzy headquarters and manufacturing facility in Fremont, California could be timed to coincide with the release of the latest U.S. employment numbers.

Solyndra turns out to be nothing more than an expensive backdrop to support Obama’s bogus claim that the stimulus was creating green jobs while goosing up his pet industry of renewable energy.

New details have emerged that as a result of the global collapse in the price of solar energy components, Solyndra was actually selling their solar panels at less than it cost to make them. The going rate per solar watt is 75 cents. The cost for Solyndra to produce their panels was $3.

You don’t have to be Warren Buffett to understand something is wrong with this business model. It’s another jarring example of “Obama-math” run amok.

How’s this for irony. In a recent Department of Energy press release, the agency proclaimed: “The federal government and the private sector must continue to invest in making America the leader in clean energy development and deployment, so that American workers can reap the benefits.”

Workers can reap the benefits? Solyndra has announced that it will lay off 1,100 workers as it battles Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is not job creation, its job annihilation.

At the core of the Solyndra tragedy is Obama’s embrace of Crony Socialism, making ill-informed decisions to reward campaign donors with government pork.

There are news reports that the Kaiser Foundation, a big Obama supporter, gave a $10,000 donation in 2009 to the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center, which has close ties to Michelle Obama. Coincidently, that same year, Kaiser asked for a loan guarantee for Solyndra through its two investment vehicles: Argonaut Ventures and the GKFF Investment Company.

Part of clean energy should be the ability for the Obama administration to “come clean” on obvious conflicts of interest.

I think most Americans are in agreement with the Obama administration’s desire to use more alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, oil imports now amount to some 11 million barrels per day or 56 percent of our requirements. That compares with 35 percent in 1973 and 42 percent in 1990.

Despite imposition of strict mileage standards and the burden of higher prices on the consumer, the level of imports has not declined significantly under President Obama. In fact, some news reporters claim that Obama’s energy policies “have created the worst of all possible worlds for American consumers: higher prices and continued dependency on imported oil.”

Let’s face facts. America will need to rely on fossil fuels for years to come. Electric cars are a nice idea, but they are merely novelties today.

The core of America’s energy program rests right here at home. We must develop America’s resources and it starts with opening more areas for both on-shore and off-shore domestic drilling. This not only reduces our dependency on foreign oil, but creates thousands of good paying American jobs.

Alternative energy options should certainly be developed alongside domestic oil exploration, but not instead of it.

So why the delay in implementing common sense energy policies? Obama has friends in green energy, but none among oil companies.

Maybe if oil companies start emulating the Kaiser Foundation’s adherence to Crony Socialism and pour money into Obama’s re-election fund they might get a seat at the energy table.

Obama’s embrace of all things “green” refers best to how green Obama is in creating jobs. At best Solyndra shows his naivety. At worse it is Chicago style politics of payola and gritty self-interest. The end result is the same. Another half billion dollars flushed down the Potomac.

As a post script, today after writing this piece, I received an email from a business associate in Saudi Arabia. He wanted to know if I knew somewhere he could purchase “well priced, high quality solar panels.”

I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

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