This week, the Department of Energy released a report on the Texas Clean Energy Project. But this report’s findings were anything but clean.
According to the report, Summit Power Group LLC, made over $2.5 million in unallowable expenditures including $1.2 million in lobbying costs, and $1.3 million in “questionable or prohibited travel-related expenses.” Those expenses included spa services, alcohol, first-class travel, limousine services, catering and banquet room rental expenses, catering on a private jet, and travel expenses to attend a charity event.
The group, which has since filed for bankruptcy, was awarded $450 million in stimulus grants under the Obama administration’s Clean Coal Power Initiative. Previous reports warned of the risks associated with the Texas Clean Energy Project, citing significant project delays had occured because of the Project’s inability to raise private financing, and, in 2016, Fossil Energy officials terminated the Project.
You may remember a similar situation when Solyndra, another stimulus-backed energy project, went bankrupt in 2011. The 2009, $787 billion stimulus package played a major role in jumpstarting both projects, and now both have been terminated.
Renewable energy projects offer great promise for our nation, but massive projects like Texas Clean Energy and Solyndra should not be placed on the backs of taxpayers who bear most of the risk. Further, the promise of renewable energy should not get in the way of common sense. Unfortunately, it is probably only a matter of time before another giant, taxpayer-funded energy project faces a similar fate.