Seen from a commenter on a news source today:
Why are the Republicans always picking on *green energy* projects?
Well, if the *shoe fits* SIR, they absolutely should be.
We know about the Solyndra debacle and other taxpayer-funded *green energy* projects which have gone belly-up. But I’d be willing to guess most have not heard about this one that could bite the dust as well: MATL, or the Montana-Alberta Tie-Line Project. And this one is a Canadian project. Picture at left.
MATL is a 300-megawatt (MW), 230-kilovolt (KV) electrical transmission line allowing the movement of power between Alberta and Montana. This is a 214-mile line which is supposed to use wind-generated power to provide electrical energy between the western U.S. and Canada.
It has also received a *loan* of $161 million from the taxpayers via the 2009 stimulus under the Western Area Power Administration, or WAPA, a division of the Department of Energy.
This project also happens to be two years behind schedule and is in deep financial trouble.
Republicans from the House Natural Resources Committee are pressuring the Department of Energy’s Chair Steven Chu to immediately halt any borrowing authority through WAPA. In a letter to Chu dated November 9 from House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), chair of the panel’s subcommittee on power tell Chu:
The DOE Inspector General’s [Gregory Friedman] report of November 7, 2011 “Management Alert” on WAPA’s borrowing authority is deeply troubling. The Alert makes it abundantly clear that WAPA not only lacks the qualifications and internal controls to carry out this program, but also points out that officials “encountered pressure…to spend Recovery Act funds expeditiously.” The end result is that WAPA contributed $161 million or 75%, of American taxpayer funds towards a Canadian company’s project [emphasis mine] that later experienced “significant delays and cost overruns” and is now at a “standstill.”
So not only is the U.S. taxpayer helping green energy companies in the U.S. to fail, it is also assisting those companies north of the border, to fail.
If you wish, you can read the 15-page Inspector General’s report here. I have to take a small amount of satisfaction that someone in Obama’s own Energy Department is very critical of what is going on there. Among the findings are:
- WAPA failed to get timely information updates from MATL.
- WAPA didn’t require MATL to fund a reserve for cost overruns.
- WAPA’s lack of lending experience contributed to MATL’s problems.
- MATL encountered legal difficulties with securing rights-of-way for the land.
- Work quality, safety and contract interpretations issues negatively impacted work progress.
- As/of October 2011, WAPA concedes it will not be able to meet the $70 million in cost overruns.
I could go on, but I know everyone knows the drill. Even more troubling is the fact that the underlying statute, according to Reps. Hastings’ and McClintock’s letter is:
If at the end of a useful life of a project, there is a remaining balance owed to the Treasury under this section, the balance shall be forgiven.
Which translates to folks, we ain’t getting any of our money back.
The House Natural Resources Committee back in October introduced a bill, authored by McClintock, to stop WAPA in it’s tracks. Let’s hope they are successful.
FYI last month the project was acquired by Canadian company Enbridge.
Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks