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Crony Capitalism: Obama bundler’s husband has received more than a billion in DOE solar loans

Adakin Valorem~PWCM~JLA 2012/05/30 11:53:50


BY: Patrick Howley - May 22, 2012 5:00 am


New disclosures show that one of President Obama’s bundlers is the wife of an executive at an energy company that received a more-than-$1.2 billion Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee for a solar power plant.


Arvia Few is a bundler for the Obama re-election campaign who has promised to raise between $50,000 and $100,000. She began bundling for Obama in the first quarter of 2012. Her husband, Jason Few, is an executive at a company that has benefited handsomely from the Obama administration’s clean energy spending, records show.


The U.S. Department of Energy granted NRG Solar a $1.237-billion loan in September 2011 to help build NRG’s California Valley Solar Ranch, which is described as “a 250 MW alternating current PV solar generating facility” by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Few became senior vice president of Houston-based Reliant Energy in 2008. He was named President of Reliant in May 2009 when NRG Energy acquired Reliant for $287.5 million. He currently serves as executive vice president and chief customer officer of NRG Energy.


“This investment and its outcome represent a pattern in which the Obama Department of Energy took promises of technological development with an undue amount of credence,” says energy expert Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


“On any given day, there are hucksters who say they can power the world. Unfortunately, there was also an administration that wanted to believe their claims,” Green said. “One has to assume that the administration was more likely to believe the people it knew.”


Other financial interests tied to the Obama administration have also invested in NRG Solar.


Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy holds a stake in another NRG project that received a $967 million Department of Energy loan guarantee.


DOE announced a $967 million loan guarantee to NRG in August 2011 for its $1.8 billion Agua Caliente Solar Project. Agua Caliente will be one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the world upon its completion in 2014.


NRG acquired the Agua Caliente Solar Project from First Solar on August 5, 2011, as DOE announced the loan.


Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy bought a 49 percent stake in NRG’s Agua Caliente project in December 2011.


The multiple DOE loans did not stop NRG Energy from reporting a first-quarter 2012 loss of $206 million.


Even so, NRG has recently expanded its operations.


Since acquiring Reliant in May 2009, NRG Energy has also acquired the offshore wind development company Bluewater Wind, thermal energy company Northwind Phoenix, Texas-based South Trent Wind Farm, Green Mountain Energy Company, Texas-based Cottonwood Generating Station, and Energy Plus Holdings.


In November 2011, NRG Solar further expanded by acquiring the San Francisco-based developer Solar Power Partners.


“When you talk to a lot of people on the environmental left, there’s a deep desire to believe that wind and solar power can help us replace fossil fuels,” Green said. “It’s a naiveté that permeated the administration.”


Jason Few was named to TheGrio’s 100 list honoring “history-makers in the making” in February 2011 despite NRG’s multi-million dollar losses. Few was “turning a profit by greening Texas,” theGrio wrote. The article did not mention the Department of Energy loan program and its relationship with NRG Energy.


Jason Few and NRG Energy did not return calls for comment.


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