Another Google “Green Cash” scam rapes taxpayers. Google may have bought White House but it did not buy good technology!
The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California. (Photo: Flickr / Atomic Hotlinks / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
David Kreutzer is the senior research fellow in energy economics and climate change at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. In this position, Kreutzer researches how energy and climate change legislation will affect economic activity at the national, local, and industry levels. Read his research.
As every ten-year-old who ever got a sweater for a birthday present has been told, “It’s the thought that counts.” That seems to be the guiding principle at the Department of Energy and the California Public Utilities Commission when it comes to solar power.
The latest example is the $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California. (Note: Solar thermal plants do not use solar panels to directly convert sunshine to electricity, they use sunshine to boil water that then drives conventional turbines.)
Here’s the story so far, Ivanpah:
Is owned by Google, NRG Energy, and Brightsource, who have a market cap in excess of $500 billion
Received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy
Is paid four to five times as much per megawatt-hour as natural-gas powered plants
Is paid two to three times as much per megawatt-hour as other solar power producers
Has burned thousands of birds to death
Is seeking over $500 million in grants to help pay off the guaranteed loans
Burns natural gas for 4.5 hours each morning to get its mojo going
Brightsource, which is privately held, is owned by a virtual who’s who of those that don’t need subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers.
In spite of all this, Ivanpah has fallen woefully short of its production targets. The managers’ explanation for why production came up 32 percent below expected output was the weather. In addition to raising questions about planning for uncertainty, it is not all that clear how a nine percent drop in sunshine causes a 32 percent drop in production.
More bizarrely, the natural gas used to get the plant all warmed up and ready each day, would be enough to generate over one quarter of the power actually produced from the solar energy. Sorry, let’s not be haters.
The problem for Ivanpah’s customers (California power utilities) is that they planned on all those solar watt-hours to meet California’s renewable power mandates, which require that renewables produce a large and rising fraction of California’s electricity. That is why they pay so much more for Ivanpah’s output than for conventionally powered electricity.
Breaching their contracts with these California utilities threatened to shut down Ivanpah. More likely than permanently shutting Ivanpah down, would have been a change of ownership at a price that came closer to reflecting reality.
But this would have been bothersome for Ivanpah’s investors and the Department of Energy’s ridiculous Section 1703 Loan Program, so the California Public Utilities Commission saved the day (for the fat-cat owners, of course, not for actual the electricity consumers) by granting the company an extension to meet the production targets.
The best part of the ruling is the section on the cost—it’s pretty succinct.
Here it is in its entirety:
But, hey, Ivanpah’s plant is a shiny new technological marvel. That’s what counts, right?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s 2015 Pay Hits $100.5M
by Georg Szalai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Courtesy of Getty Images
A filing shows the new CEO’s pay package, that holding company Alphabet’s CEO Larry Page and president Sergey Brin again made $1 each last year, while executive chair Eric Schmidt earned $8 million, down from $108.7 million.
New Google CEO Sundar Pichai received compensation worth $100.5 million in 2015, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.
His salary amounted to $652,500, plus he received stock awards worth more than $99.8 million. He also got “other” compensation worth $22,935.
The company didn’t disclose his 2014 pay.
Pichai also received 273,328 Class C shares in February that will vest in quarterly increments through 2019 if he stays at the job, according to a previous filing. That will ensure he remains one of the highest-paid U.S. executives.
Pichai, the former deputy of Google co-founder Larry Page as senior vp products, was in August picked to run the Internet giant following a reorganization that created holding company Alphabet. It owns Google and a group of subsidiaries that Page at the time described as “pretty far afield of our main Internet products,” including the moonshot lab Google X. Pichai became Google CEO on Oct. 2.
Page, now CEO of Alphabet, and Sergey Brin, president of Alphabet, made $1 each last year. They have been receiving a $1 salary as compensation for years.
Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s 2015 compensation amounted to more than $8 million, Tuesday’s filing showed, down from $108.7 million in 2014, which was driven by more than $100 million in stock awards.