Monday, December 20, 2010

Wind: "Powerful Democrats help Chinese energy firm chase stimulus money" (APWR)

From the Investigative Reporting Project at American University:


Top Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists with links to the White House are behind a proposed wind farm in Texas that stands to get $450 million in stimulus money, even though a Chinese company would operate the farm and its turbines would be built in China.

The farm’s backers also have close ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who, at the height of his hard-fought reelection bid this fall, helped blunt Congressional criticism over stimulus dollars possibly going to create jobs in China by endorsing a proposal by the Chinese company to build a factory in his home state. Although his campaign received thousands of dollars in donations from the wind farm’s backers and Reid stood on stage with them at a campaign event they hosted, his office declined to answer any questions about the wind farm’s organizers or their plans for Nevada.

The wind farm, first announced more than a year ago, would consist of 300 two-megawatt wind turbines, each one perched atop 26-story-tall steel towers, spinning three blades, each half the length of a football field. The farm would span three counties and 36,000 acres in West Texas land best known for its oil.  Dubbed the Spinning Star wind farm, the project’s 600-megawatt capacity is, theoretically, large enough to power 180,000 American homes and would be the sixth-largest wind farm in the country.

It is being planned by an unusual joint partnership between the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a Dallas investment firm with strong ties to Washington and the Democratic Party, and A-Power Energy Generation Systems, an upstart Chinese supplier of wind turbines.  Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate the Chinese are bringing financing and the turbines.

What the Americans are supplying is the local know-how and political clout in Washington, where decisions on how to distribute billions in loan guarantees, stimulus grants and financial incentives are made....MORE  

HT: Knowledge Problem who writes:
...Earlier reports from the Investigative Journalism Workshop detailed that about 88 percent of the section 1603 grant money went to non-U.S. based companies, including companies from Spain, Germany, Japan, and Portugal.  Note that the location of the corporate headquarters likely has little to do with where the money gets spent or who ends up better off because of the subsidy.  Another report indicated that $1.3 billion in stimulus funds went to wind power projects built before the stimulus bill was passed.

Added: HT to the Dallas Morning News Texas Energy and Environment blog.

Also, via Seeking Alpha, recent financial filings by A-Power suggest that the west Texas project will not get built. If the project does not receive Section 1603 grants and the DOE loan guarantee by December 31, 2010,  A-Power’s partners have the right to dissolve the partnership.  They report, “In our view, it is not likely that Spinning Star [the project's name] will be able to arrange the requisite construction financing by December 31,2010….”