The impending Zombie Apocalypse is real and it’s coming to a solar power project near you! At least, that’s what a group of four conservative organizations is saying in a new statement. The foursome is concerned that the proposed “No More Solyndras Act” does not go far enough to choke off federal support for new energy projects that are already in the Department of Energy’s loan pipeline, enabling the survival of “a number of the ‘zombie’ projects that would be allowed to live.” Sounds like the elevator pitch for a Grade B zombie flick, right? And what’s all this about No More Solyndras not going far enough?
No More Solyndras Doesn’t Go Far Enough
For those of you new to the issue, the No More Solyndras Act is a Republican-sponsored proposal coming up for a vote this week.
The bill would put an end to the Department of Energy’s successful Loan Guarantee Program for new energy projects, but it would, reasonably enough, allow for the completion of projects that are already in the pipeline.
That doesn’t go nearly far enough, say the usual suspects! The four groups issuing the statement are Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. They claim that these “zombie” projects could be “even more costly to taxpayers than the widely publicized Solyndra loan-guarantee failure.”
The remedy, according to National Taxpayers Union VP Andrew Moylan, is to amend the bill to cut the Loan Guarantee program off sooner rather than later, thus ensuring that “these ‘zombie’ projects don’t draw any more blood from taxpayers.”
So… How Much Blood from Taxpayers?
It seems that the anti-zombie crowd is a little misinformed about the nature of the Loan Guarantee program, and is more than happy to spread that misinformation around.
The Loan Guarantee program was implemented under legislation dating back to the Bush Administration. From the get-go, it was designed with the expectation that some of the ventures could fail, since it involves private sector investment.
Sure enough, although some of the investments have failed, including the Solyndra company (which, by the way, came into the Loan Guarantee pipeline during the Bush Administration, not the Obama Administration), an independent audit has confirmed that the overall DOE Loan Guarantee portfolio is strong and successful.
The program, in fact, is credited with spurring billions more in private investment, to say nothing of new green jobs.
Spark Notes version: Private sector investors can lose out if one of the Loan Guarantee projects fails, but taxpayers have nothing to fear (well, except for fear itself. And spiders).
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.