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The California wind boondoggle

Writing at Forbes, Larry Bell paddles through the next wave of Solyndra disasters coming our way from the Obama Administration: a 65-percent taxpayer-subsidized windmill project in Indiana that will create 35 jobs at a cost of $16.3 million apiece, the Administration’s decision to waste increasingly scarce defense dollars by forcing the Navy to buy ridiculously expensive biofuel, and of course the growing flood of taxpayer dollars being poured into that 21st-century Edsel, the Chevy Volt.

Bell relates one particularly egregious example of crony capitalism, in which “green energy” will involve lots of green changing hands, with no energy being produced at all:

Idaho Winds LLC which represents eight wind farms has hatched a plan to take advantage of California’s carbon cap-and-trade lunacy. They have petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the sale of renewable energy credits to a third party. Idaho Winds would then immediately buy the power back, leaving just the credits which the third party would sell to a California utility. So in essence, no energy would actually be sold…just California credits for wind power sold in another state.

The shell game is driven by laws in California and other western states requiring that renewable sources provide a certain percentage of the state’s energy use, and providing that each unit a utility buys or produces receives credit. A loopy loophole allows California utilities to “unbundle” the energy and energy credits following an initial purchase, and then just buy the credits. Idaho doesn’t have such a law, so its utilities don’t need the credits. If allowed by FERC, it will enable Idaho to literally create energy credits out of thin air and sell them to California utilities that pass on those costs to their unlucky customers.

This is the kind of capital-destroying money sink that made Al Gore rich beyond dreams of avarice.  It’s an even better example of the madness of politically-created phony markets than the billions we’ve been forced to spend on an electric car nobody actually wants to buy.  At least there’s an actual car sitting in the garages of trendy liberals with six-figure incomes, largely financed by the U.S. taxpayer.  At this point, over two-thirds of the true price of a Volt is covered by compulsory taxpayer subsidies, a ridiculous “business model” that has the sole virtue of actually producing exploding cars.

The “renewable credit” scam described by Bell is a more advanced example of Obamanomics: nothing is being produced at all.  Better still, the California taxpayers getting fleeced to subsidize this scam won’t even know what hit them.  An increasing portion of our economy-crushing tax burden is hidden this way, behind a complex screen of mandates and regulations that make it very difficult for the taxpayer to know precisely whose hand is shoved into his pocket.

Recovering liberals working to shake off the programming that led them to view Big Government as the selfless enemy of rapacious Big Business would do well to study these “green power” disasters.  In reality, President Obama’s career illustrates how Big Government is, instead, the instrument of the least productive kind of Big Business.  Big Government has a very valuable and expensive product to sell: anti-competition.  It can subsidize failure and create stagnant backwater “markets” through regulatory excess.  Those who have the most difficulty drawing the business of willing customers, and turning a profit in the free market, will always be the most eager customers for anti-competition. 

That’s why your children will be forced to their knees under the burden of Barack Obama’s debt, in order to make his big contributors rich, and leave the rest of us stuck with a bunch of “green energy” crap that doesn’t work – and in some cases, doesn’t really exist.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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