Top Obama administration officials are tied to energy companies that received hundreds of millions of dollars in “stimulus” money, documents the recently released book “Fool Me Twice.” One such recipient, according to authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott, is BrightSource Energy, a solar energy company attempting to build the world’s largest solar power plant amid concerns such a venture might be too risky an investment for the federal government. BrightSource received a $1.37 billion federal loan guarantee, the largest the Department of Energy has ever given for a solar power project. The loan guarantee is for the construction of a gigantic California desert solar plant known as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. The plant features mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a massive central tower that is heated to produce steam to spin turbines that, in turn, produce electricity.
BrightSource’s chairman, was John Bryson, the 37th secretary of the Department of Commerce. Bryson resigned from his government post in June after he was involved in an alleged hit-and-run accident. Bryson also cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental activist group, is part of the controversial Apollo Alliance. Apollo is a progressive organization that has boasted in its own literature of direct involvement in crafting the “green” portions of Obama’s 2009 stimulus – the very legislation that underwrote BrightSource’s loan. An Apollo board member is Van Jones, Obama’s former “green” jobs czar.
Also getting some of millions in stimulus money, is T. J. Glauthier, who served on Obama’s 2008 White House transition team. One company investigated is GridPoint Inc, where Glauthier was appointed to the board in March 2008. GridPoint provides utilities software solutions for electrical grid management and electric power demand and supply balancing. The stimulus provides a whopping $4.5 billion for so-called smart grid projects, and GridPoint got paid from scores of smart grid deals funded by the “stimulus.”
The company partnered with the Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), Nissan, the Idaho National Laboratory and others in a project to deploy electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging infrastructure in five states. The Energy Department had awarded eTec almost $100 million in stimulus funds to support the project. GridPoint’s role in the eTec project was to supply smart charging and data logging capability to utilities located in strategic markets of eTec’s program in Arizona, California, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. GridPoint also benefited from software solutions for a KCP&L’s Green Impact Zone SmartGrid Demonstration in Kansas City, Mo. . GridPoint helped the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD, to manage power from its customers’ rooftop solar panels. SMUD had won $127.5 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Energy to carry out the project, which also includes deploying 600,000 smart meters in its service territory.
Again, in early 2009, the Energy Department awarded Argonne National Laboratory nearly $2.7 million in stimulus funding for three solar energy-related research projects. Argonne reportedly shared another $5 million in stimulus funding for projects with GridPoint. Glauthier, meanwhile, came under some fire in the conservative blogosphere after Fox News reported the U.S. Navy has purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel for about $16 a gallon, or about four times the price of its standard marine fuel, JP-5, which has been going for under $4 a gallon. HotAir.com reported Glauthier is a “strategic adviser” to Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy. HotAir noted Solazyme received a $21.8 million grant from the 2009 stimulus package.
Whitney Pitcher found that prior to serving as adviser to Solazyme and after his time as part of Obama’s transition team, Glauthier served on the advisory board of SunRun, a solar financing company. SunRun secured a $6.73 million grant from the Treasury Department stimulus program.
The Center for American Progress has had heavy influence on the crafting of White House policy. CAP is run by John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who was co-chairman of President Obama’s 2008 White House transition team. A Time magazine article profiled the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration branded CAP as the “idea factory” of the Obama administration.
Podesta’s sister-in-law, Heather Podesta, served as the lobbyist for a wind power firm recently awarded a $135.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company is Brookfield Asset Management. It has a board of nine directors, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s longtime girlfriend.
The grant was finalized to build the 99-megawatt Granite Reliable wind project in New Hampshire’s Coos County, making it the state’s largest wind plant. Seventy-five percent of the new wind project is owned by BAIF Granite Holdings, which was created earlier this year by Brookfield Renewable Power, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management of New York. Since 2009, Brookfield has been represented by the lobbying firm of Heather Podesta and Partners, LLC. Podesta, herself a top financial bundler for Democrat politicians, is wife of lobbyist and art collector Tony Podesta, who is John’s brother. Heather Podesta and her husband, in July 2011, topped the FEC’s lobbyist bundler database, raising more money by far in the six prior months than any other lobbyist. Heather Podesta visited the White House eight times in Obama’s first six months alone.
A “green” bank, termed a “Energy Independence Trust” in the progressive recommendation papers, would borrow from the federal treasury to provide low-cost financing to private-sector investments in “clean energy.”