Posts Tagged ‘Obama’
Friday, November 26th, 2010
November 26, 2010
Does GM’s IPO mean it is finally standing on its own instead of being propped up by the government? Not according to Bloomberg News.
A report this week says that almost one quarter of all electric hybrids sold in the past two years have been bought by the federal government. The buying has become particularly intense since President Obama took office.
Ford has benefited as well. According to data obtained by the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. General Services Administration bought 14,500 hybrids in the last two years, about 10 percent of all the agency’s purchases.“The government purchased about 64 percent of GM’s Chevy Malibu hybrid models and 29 percent of all Ford Fusion hybrids manufactured since Obama took office in 2009, the data show,” reports Bloomberg.
“GM stopped making the Malibu hybrid in 2009 after lack of consumer demand. GSA also bought about 14 percent of Ford Escape hybrids.” The government purchased virtually no Toyota Priuses or Honda Civics.
The drive to prop up hybrid sales comes at a time when consumer demand for the technology seems to be fading. Hybrids are experiencing their third straight year of decline and have peaked at around 2 percent of passenger car sales. “Without a huge gas-price increase or further government demand, the natural demand just doesn’t seem to be there,” Jeff Schuster, director of forecasting at J.D. Power & Associates told Bloomberg.
Now, under government guidance, GM is trying to expand the market by introducing an all-electric model.Anybody want to buy a Volt?
Read more at Bloomberg News
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Spain was supposed to be the poster child of how to grow a green economy. It is now a poster child in how government attempts to manipulate the economy can leave investors holding the bag.
Bloomberg Markets tells the long, sad story of how a Spanish farm family is about get stiffed as the Socialist government backs away from its commitment to pay "feed-in tariffs" (fixed prices) at ten times the market value to rural property owners who agreed to put solar collectors on their land.
The government was trying to generate 400 megawatts of electricity. It miscalculated, however, and ended up incentivizing construction of 3500 MW and found itself on the hook for $139 billion. Now the government is considering dropping the subsidies and leaving investors stranded.
As the chairman of Spain’s largest solar panel maker puts it: "I’ve developed a bit of a motto: If the Socialist government says they’re going to help you, run!"
Are there any implications for the U.S.? You don’t have to look far. When Prime Minister Zapatero visited the White House last year, President Obama praised him as a "worldwide leader" in renewable energy and pledged to "work diligently" with him. The U.S. stimulus package included $67 billion in loans, loan guarantees, grants and tax credits for so-called "renewable energy.
Read more at Bloomberg News
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Caught between a rock and a hard place, President Obama has chosen the rock.â€¨
â€¨According to a report in Bloomberg News, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu told a Washington conference yesterday that the President will re-install the solar panels put atop the White House thirty years ago by President Jimmy Carter and rescued from a museum recently by global warming activists.
“The White House will lead by example,” Chu said. The panels only produce hot water. Chu said a set of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity would also be installed by next June. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there,” he said. President Ronald Reagan took down the panels after taking office in 1981. Ironically, President George Bush, Jr. had solar panels installed to heat some of the residence plus maintenance building but received neither credit nor opprobrium for the effort.â€¨
Unfortunately, environmental activists have called the President’s hand at the exact moment when he is being widely compared to Carter’s “failed Presidency.” Several magazines and cartoonists have recently offered illustrations of Obama looking in the mirror and seeing his Democratic predecessor from the 1970s. To his opponents, the solar panels could very well become a symbol of the continuity between the two administrations.â€¨
Obama has been put on the spot by global warming crusader Bill McKibben, a former New Yorker staffer and author of The End of Nature and Eaarth, which argues that climate change has already altered things so much that the earth has become “a tough new planet.” McKibben lives for years in the remote Adirondacks before “returning to civilization” three years ago by taking a teaching job at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is the originator of 350.org and is now leading the “10.10.10” effort – a worldwide Internet-oriented day of recognition of global warming that will take place on October 10th.
Last year McKibben tracked down one of the original solar panels atop a cafeteria at Colby College in Maine, loaded them onto a trailer and made a much-heralded progression down the coast, headed for the White House. On the way he appeared on the David Letterman Show. When he arrived in D.C. last month, White House met with him but declined to accept the panels. Now the administration has changed its mind – obviously stung by recent restlessness in the environmental ranks.
Ironically, McKibben is one of those rare environmentalists who is willing to admit that nuclear must play a part in preventing global warming. Interviewed last July at the SolarFest in Tinmouth, Vermont, where he was the keynote speaker, McKibben said he knew nuclear was essential to reducing carbon emissions but didn’t like to say so in public. “It would split this movement in half,” he said, gesturing to the youthful crowd, many of whom had camped on a hillside farm for three days.
He was right. Half the gathering was there to celebrate solar energy while the other half was campaigning to close down Vermont Yankee, the state’s principal source of power.
Read more about it at Business Week and Politico
Monday, October 4th, 2010
With the failure of climate bill legislation in Congress, the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is determined to do the heavy lifting in regulating carbon emissions. This may haunt Midwestern Democrats in coming elections.
“Controversial rules covering everything from power plants to petroleum refiners, manufacturers, coal mines and farmers [severely affect] industrial and Midwestern states that carried Obama to the presidency two years ago,” reports Politico this morning. Even some Democrats in the coal states are upset with the proposed regulations and are campaigning to have them reversed by Congress.
West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, as reliable a liberal Democrat as anyone, was firing up a crowd of coal miners recently urging them to “Get mad” at the EPA effort. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri – all key electoral states – stand to be most affected by the regulations. In response, the EPA and environmental groups have trotted out the usual polls showing strong public support for dealing with climate change.
“A survey by Democratic pollster Joel Benenson and the Natural Resources Defense Council in late summer found that 60 percent of respondents supported government regulating greenhouse gases, with 34 percent opposed,” reports Politico. “As for the EPA, respondents gave a 51 percent favorable rating to the agency, compared with 40 percent opposed.” But of course talking to pollsters and casting a vote in the November elections are two entirely different things.
The dilemma reveals what is emerging as a national paradox – the failure of environmental groups to embrace nuclear in their campaign to cut carbon emissions. "Were there a dozen new reactors under construction in the Midwest right now, the prospect of shutting down aging coal plants and pushing up electrical rates wouldn’t be so threatening," said one nuclear energy observer. "As it is, nothing positive is happening. Even investment in dubious renewable energy projects has fallen off."
As a result, the Midwest and the EPA will probably end up locked in an ugly ground game over whether to allow 40- and 50-year-old coal plants to keep running for another few decades.
Read more at Politico
Monday, October 4th, 2010
President Obama’s public flirtation with nuclear energy appears to be on the wane. Although the President has advanced a good word or two in his State of the Union — and a couple sentences since — about nuclear over the past year, with the November mid-term election looming he appears to be returning to his Inaugural Address of a world run on “energy from wind, sun and soil.”
Following a major interview in Rolling Stone where there was no mention of nuclear energy in his climate platform, in his weekly address Saturday the President had lots of wonderful things to say about the future of wind and solar energy with nary a mention of nuclear power. “[S]ince we took office, my administration has made an historic commitment to promote clean energy technology. This will mean hundreds of thousands of new American jobs by 2012. . . . Jobs for engineers and construction crews to create wind farms and solar plants that are going to double the renewable energy we can generate in this country. These are jobs building the future.”
The President lamented how “we’ve seen companies produce new energy technologies and high-skilled jobs not in America, but in countries like China, India and Germany” – an interesting choice since Germany is now the only country in the world that exceeds the U.S. in anti-nuclear sentiment. China and India are dabbling with solar installations but mostly building these fixtures for consumption in the West. China is planning 60 new reactors and India also has an ambitious building program.
As a capstone to his energy treatise, the President cited “a company called BrightSource [which] plans to break ground on a revolutionary new type of solar power plant [in the Mojave Desert]. It’s going to put about a thousand people to work building a state-of-the-art facility. And when it’s complete, it will turn sunlight into the energy that will power up to 140,000 homes – the largest such plant in the world.” The BrightSource facility will employ two square miles highly polished mirrors to produce 100 MW, about 1/10th the size of a standard nuclear reactor. The Green Path North, which would have carried this electricity from the Mojave to Los Angeles, was opposed by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Wildlands Conservancy and just about every municipal government in its path before finally being abandoned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power last March.
Read more at E News
Friday, October 1st, 2010
When the Senate and House reconvene after the November election either for their lame-duck session or the new Congress in January, it’s likely that a national renewable portfolio standard will be again surface. The Senate Energy bill, already out of committee, mandates that 15 percent of our national electricity should come from “renewable resources” – i.e., sun, wind, geothermal and biomass – by 2020.
It all seems so simple. Just pass a law and we’ll be on our way to a world run on “energy from sun, wind and soil,” as President Obama put it in his Inaugural Address. But of course it won’t work. The 29 existing state mandates are notable for their lack of compliance and have produced rising electrical rates.
More important, a national renewable standard will inhibit U.S. nuclear energy development. Billions of dollars will be sunk into wind farms and solar collectors while new reactors remain on the drawing board. A few sensible voices – including the Washington Post editorial page – are pushing for a “carbon-free” standard, but, an amendment appears uphill without a shift in the balance of the Senate and House.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the illusion of a renewable standard remains enormously popular with the public, scoring as high as 70 percent approval in some polls. So, how do you sober up the public with respect to the allure of a renewable electricity? And how do you reposition the end game to focus on clean energy standard, based on carbon-free energy? Can a clean energy standard that includes nuclear energy, garner support in the new Congress as part of the President’s new energy climate legislation in “chunks” strategy?
Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Two of the most promising new build projects announced severe cutbacks this week as hope that the Department of Energy will soon announce any new loan guarantees begins to fade.
NRG, of Princeton, N.J., announced it would reduce monthly spending to $1.5 million a month, down 95 percent from two months ago, at its South Texas project near San Antonio. Total spending for the year will drop from an anticipated $302 million to $186 million. Although CEO David Crane said he is still confident the project will go forward, NRG is obviously pulling back on its commitment. NRG stock rose 3 percent after the announcement.
Constellation Energy in Maryland made virtually the same announcement last week when it said it is suspending all new spending on Calvert Cliffs III until the loan guarantee issue is resolved. Constellation even suggested it might drop the project altogether if a decision from the Department of Energy is not forthcoming by the end of the year.
EDF, the French national utility that is Constellation’s partner on the project, reported a big drop in earnings last week, mainly because of losses on Calvert Cliffs. The two companies have already spent $600 million on the project.
Hopes that any new loan guarantees may be forthcoming from DOE are guarded. The Department has committed about $9 billion of its authorized $18.5 billion to the Vogtle Plant in Georgia, being build by Southern Nuclear Company. The remaining loan guarantee pool is not sufficient to fund both South Texas and Calvert Cliffs — forcing DOE to chose between the two projects or further delay any announcement until FY2011 budgets are finalized with fresh funding.
In February President Obama proposed raising the loan guarantee fund to $54 billion but Congress has not yet fully acted on his suggestion. The Senate nixed an additional $9 billion in loan guarantee funding from a proposed FY2010 supplemental funding bill.
Read more at the WSJ…
…and the Baltimore Sun
Thursday, April 8th, 2010
The worldwide advance of nuclear power and concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons seemed to be converging this week as the Obama Administration headlined its non-proliferation efforts.
Lest there be any doubt of the revival, the news everywhere involved new construction. The State Bank of Egypt announced it is seeking funding for four new reactors by 2025 and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. said it has identified a site for two new 700-megawatt reactors. India has long been exploring thorium technology to take advantage of its extensive thorium resources.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration moved ahead with plans to convene a summit of 47 nations next week to discuss the security of nuclear materials. U.S. officials may be surprised at the response, having always assumed that America has a huge lead in nuclear technology over the rest of the world and that it is our responsibility to keep other nations from handling nuclear material. This approach has backfired recently when U.S. officials tried to tell South Korea it could not reprocess fuel for fear that it might lead to nuclear proliferation. The South Koreans said Americans were treating them as “criminals.”
Read it at World Nuclear News
Then come back to Nuclear Townhall and share your thoughts
- William Tucker