Greasing the solar skids
So it turns out that Solyndra may be just the tip of the iceberg that is the Obama administration's politically charged energy-loan scandal.
Even as Energy Secretary Stephen Chu was on Capitol Hill this week, claiming — against all the e-mail evidence — that the White House played no role in the Solyndra debacle, came word of an even bigger potential scandal.
Turns out a California-based "green jobs" firm with a troubled financial history got a $1.4 billion Energy Department loan guarantee — three times the size of Solyndra's jackpot — despite mountains of debt.
And it turns out that the principal private investor in BrightSource Energy, the lucky recipient, is a company called VantagePoint — whose "venture partners" include Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
That's a name that certainly opens up a lot of doors in Barack Obama's Washington — when Kennedy's not busy preaching to New Yorkers about their environmental crimes and trying to shut down key energy sources, like Indian Point.
It also doesn't hurt that a VantagePoint official (and Obama fund-raiser), Sanjay Wagle, left the firm to become a renewable-energy-grants adviser at — yep — the US Department of Energy.
The revelation of BrightSource's bailout — and the RFK Jr. connection — appear in Peter Schweizer's explosive new book, "Throw Them All Out."
To be sure, BrightSource itself was upfront on just how iffy an investment its company was: "This offering involves a high degree of risk," warned its IPO registration statement. "We have generated substantial net losses and negative operating cash flows since our inception and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
How much in losses? "We have incurred losses of approximately $204.1 million from our inception through March 31, 2011," it conceded.
Moreover, "our proprietary technology has a limited history and may perform below expectations when implemented."
Wait — it gets better.
In an SEC filing, BrightSource conceded that its very survival depends on its ability to build Ivanpah, a 370-megawatt solar power plant, in California — even while admitting that its ability to do so is "subject to significant risk and uncertainty."
None of this should surprise: The New York Times reported Thursday on "the new calculus on political and policy shifts" when it comes to energy "as the White House sharpens its focus on the president's re-election."
Still, this is a viable candidate for a $1.4 billion taxpayer-funded bailout?
In Barack Obama's Washington, yes.
Especially if you've got someone like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on board.
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