It is true that 2012 may be the last year for President Obama’s bold support for clean energy – because in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the bought-and-paid-for plutocratic new Supreme Court, it is the Koch brothers who get to decide – but oh boy, did he ever get his licks in!
Last year, the US government gave out more loans for clean energy – than even China, which came second in the rankings.
US clean energy investment rose 33% last year to a staggering $55.9 billion – while in China it increased 1 percent to $47.4 billion, according to a study of the industry’s top 20 lenders by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
(Previous story: Solar Grew 69% From Obama Policy )
The Federal Financing Bank alone completed 13 deals worth $10.1 billion for projects – including the Ivanpah solar thermal plant from BrightSource that has the potential to supply a staggering 13% of California’s electricity – for 33 million Californians.
The Obama administration – quite simply – quadrupled all the clean energy ever put on US public lands. This year, its Department of the Interior fast tracked the biggest ever wind farm in North America, a 2,500 MW project.
But US government leadership in renewable energy is now at an end.
The 30% US cash grant expired on December 31st. It had paid actual government cash in lieu of the 30% tax credit for renewable project development, in the wake of the great recession of 2008, when so many companies were felled. It was miraculously extended for one year, but has now finally ended, a victim of the new fossil-fueled Tea Party congress that the oil-billionaire Koch brothers purchased in 2010 to prevent any competition for dirty energy.
Likewise, the Department of Energy’s clean energy loan guarantee program, which had been finally dusted off and funded in 2009 – after sitting around unused in some attic in congress for years.
The Obama administration Department of Energy offered a guarantee that if – after it got a private loan – a renewable company failed, Uncle Sam would take care of repaying the loan. It jump started lending in the US renewable energy world, reviving confidence at a time when investors were badly shaken.
Since so many of these loan guarantees were for solar power projects with purchase agreements in place with electric utilities, and practically zero risks of wind spills or solar meltdowns, most of the nearly $40 billion that this administration guaranteed, is now uneventfully being paid back.
The administration also boldly committed to high risk/high reward loan guarantees, like the one for a completely novel kind of solar from Solyndra, which received $0.5 billion of the $40 billion in guarantees.
But the company failed as traditional solar prices hit the skids, so their product, a novel thin film folded inside an airtight glass cylinder to keep moisture out, was not competitive in the new environment.
And so, latching onto that failure, the program was felled at the end of September by the Koch congress.
Next, the Koch brothers get to pick their president to match – but it was great while it lasted.