$90 billion. The Obama administration has put $90 billion in subsidies into solar and wind energy companies and about half of the companies have failed. That is the claim that Romney has said debate after debate.
The argument is that the $90 billion could have been spent on something else. Solyndra and Ener1and now A123 have all gone belly up. This is seen as a waste. The thing is for all the failures there have been success and success in a field that will lead to major long term benefits. These green energy loans are long term investments – hmm, perhaps the left should sell them like that.
Fact checking shows that indeed $90 billion has been spent by the Department of Energy (DOE) since 2009. Interestingly, the $90 billion has been part of the Recovery Act with the goal of laying the foundation for an energy efficient America in the future.
As the layers are peeled back one finds that the $90 billion figure reflects the total budget for the DOE’s Recovery Act program. Of that only a small percentage of that money has gone to renewable energy. The majority has funded energy efficiency programs and environmental cleanup of nuclear weapons production and storage sites. In other words — $90 billion has not been spent on solar and wind energy companies.
Large parts of the $90 billion have gone to upgrades to America’s transmission grid, around $4 billion. Parts of the $90 billion have gone to research into carbon capture and storage, $3 billion. It should be noted that Romney is on record as supporting this type of research.
Yes, some companies that took DOE loan money have failed and thus have/will have defaulted on their loan. The DOE has looked into this and the total defaults are likely to be in the range $400 – $800 million — about one quarter the amount projected and budgeted. For a federal government loan program this is a massive success.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison