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DOE awarding more than $1.2 billion in energy subsidies despite sequester

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Politics Digest,Michal Conger

More than $1.2 billion in cash payments has been awarded to renewable energy projects by the Department of Energy and the Treasury Department since the beginning of the year, with the majority of them going to solar electricity.

While other agencies grapple with furloughs and service cuts, the DOE continues to hand out 30 percent of the cost basis for renewable projects under its 1603 program, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Between January 1 and February 14,$1,254,769,726 was awarded to 435 renewable energy projects, 381 of which were  to solar, according to the Heritage Foundation.

The 1603 program had awarded more than $9.2 billion to 748  wind projects and $2.7 billion to more than 44,000 solar projects through July 2012, according to a separate Heritage report.

The program won’t escape the sequester completely unscathed. Projects awarded between March 1 and September 30 will be reduced by 8.7 percent.

But the DOE is pressing ahead with awards to green technology. The department also announced last month it will award $150 million left over from a separate stimulus program, 48C manufacture tax credits.

“The initial round of awards in 2009 provided $2.3 billion in credits to 183 projects across the country. However, because some projects did not go forward or changed scope, $150 million was effectively left unused,” according to the announcement.

Among the original recipients, Heritage noted, were companies like Abound Solar, which declared bankruptcy last June; First Solar, which laid off one-third of its workforce last year; and Amonix, which closed down after determining it lacked an economically viable product.

The administration said the 48C program supports President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, which heavily emphasizes investments in renewable energy as a way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“This important tax program supports the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy—a strategy that reduces costs for consumers, better protects our air and water, and provides for true energy independence for the United States,” DOE said.

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