January 19, 2021

Flower power vs. America’s need for power

Posted on 25. Apr, 2011 by Administrator in Energy/Environment

My childhood bedroom had hot pink walls with glossy orange window trim. The ceiling was scattered with daisies—hot pink and orange. In that same era, remember, VW buses were decorated with daises—some pink and orange, and some lime green and turquoise. “Flower Power” bumper stickers were seen on all kinds of cars. Long haired “hippie freaks” stood on street corners and shouted “flower power.” I doubt that back then many of us knew what we were suggesting—even demanding. Flower power seemed like a bit of cheer in a time of war.

We know that if you say something loud enough and long enough, people start to believe you. Such is the case with flower power. Today’s decision makers grew up surrounded by these colorful daises. Flower power is a part of their psyche. They really believe in flower power—thinking we can create a daisy chain of sunshine, breezes, and even the flowers themselves to generate the power America needs. Flower power will then offer free and green electricity to power automobiles. The GM Volt was heralded as the salvation of the energy crisis. Drivers could sneer at the gas pumps as they cruised past powered by clean electricity—the end of the daisy chain. Believing it to be the redeemer of the American auto industry, the government dumped billions into the creation of the Volt.

We now have the Volt. At a sales price of more than $40,000 government subsidies are needed to entice buyers to give them a sniff. Even with as much as $7500 in a Federal Tax Credit, people aren’t picking them. In January 321 Volts were sold nationwide. The next month, only 281. Now there is talk of cutting our government-funded loses and selling off the remaining GM stock—the stock American citizens were promised would pay us back. For the Volt to fulfill the flower power dream, it needs to run on so-called “clean energy” such as wind/solar or bio fuels. Once again Government is shoveling billions into making flower power a reality.

President Obama’s fondness for renewable energy is well-known—he brings it up in nearly every speech. But Obama is not the first to tout biofuels. President Bush planted the seeds of federal subsidies for biofuels in his 2006 State of the Union address. In March of 2007, Range Fuels received a $76m grant to convert wood chips to ethanol. The Soperton, GA plant, would have been the first ever to produce cellulosic ethanol—with the goal of 20 million gallons in 2008. Besides being watered with the Federal grant, Range Fuels received $6m from the state and nearly $160m in private investments. President Obama added his support with a Department of Agriculture $80m loan. To be sure this flower power grew, Congress fertilized the plant with mandates for Range Fuels’ product: 100m gallons by 2010. Despite a $300m+ investment, the plant never flowered. It is closed. Employees gone.

A loss of only $300m would be optimistic if you were Evergreen Solar in MA. The newly shuttered solar panel plant has lost more than double that of Range Fuels. Like the GA flower power plant, Evergreen Solar, received help from its home state that was using it for bragging rights about their flower power. State taxpayers contributed $58m in grants, loans and land incentives—offering a $1 a year lease for a former military base. Despite the help from state and the federal subsidies, Evergreen Solar could not keep the Devens, MA plant alive—leaving 800 people out of work.

You’d think our lawmakers might learn that they cannot pick winners. They should stick to governing not investing. No. They take the money from us to give it to their pet projects. You know about Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, appointed by Obama to serve as Chair of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You also probably know that GE did not pay any 2010 corporate taxes. This looks bad and smells like skunk cabbage. But did you know that in 2009 GE Financial Services invested in the world’s largest wind farm (845-megawatt): Shepherd’s Flat in OR, and that in December 2010 GE received a $1.4b contract to supply the wind turbines “assembled” in the US but manufactured overseas? Permanent US jobs expected at Shepherd’s Flat: 35. Completing the flower power daisy chain, GE was awarded the Shepherd’s Flat contract after they agreed to purchase 12000 GM Volts. Should we add more manure in the garden or wake up from the flower power haze of the sixties and face the reality of America’s need for power? A daisy chain isn’t strong enough to provide the energy for America’s security and freedom.

Known as the voice for energy, Marita Noon is the Executive Director at Energy Makes America Great Inc. the advocacy arm of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy—working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. She is a popular speaker, a frequent guest on television and radio, her commentaries have been published in newspapers, blogs and websites nationwide, and she has just completed her twentieth book: Take Away Energy, Take Away Freedom. Find out more at www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.

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