Use of non-transparent private emails on key government business: the case of DOE's subsidized nuclear loans

Hillary Clinton's use of her personal email account for official government business has been all over the news lately.  The concern is that the approach escapes the normal channels of accountability regarding official government business, and makes it much more difficult to protect government records for historical purposes.  

If an email is sent from a private address, does it make a noise?

DOE's eGallon price comparison tool ignores gasoline taxes, road funding

DOE has recently unveiled a price comparison tool to illustrate the reduction in fuel costs experienced by owners (or future owners) of all-electric vehicles.  The screen compares the expensive cost per gallon of regular gasoline to the much cheaper energy equivalent in electrical power needed to move a vehicle the same distance.  The intent of the tool is a good one, and, in fairness, DOE's methodology does seem to accurately portray the comparative cost per gallon to the end-user.

Part of the cost savings is simply avoiding user fees to fund roads

Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors

The Department of Energy (DOE) is asking Congress to provide hundreds of millions in subsidies to commercialize small modular reactors (SMR). First proposed in the 2011 budget, the Administration has committed to providing more than $500 million dollars for licensing support and research and development for these downsized nuclear reactors. A fraction of the size of conventional-scale reactors, SMRs would be manufactured by assembly line and transported by truck, ship, or rail to their destinations.

Missing the point of the Solyndra bankruptcy

Those of us who have been railing on the government's increasing push to make massive loan guarantees available to individual energy firms are not surprised to see the first major bankruptcy.  Solyndra went down with $535 million in federal guarantees for lots of reasons.  The marketplace is increasingly competitive.  Power prices have fallen due to recession and fracking-induced reductions in the cost of natural gas.  China subsidizes its solar production, artificially manipulates exchange rates, and there is a growing supply overhang as PV subsidies in Europe get cut.  New technologies lo

Event: A Conservative View of Large Scale Loan Guarantees to Energy

Tomorrow's event (November 30th), titled Department of Energy Loan Guarantees: Should Taxpayers Bear the Risks for the Energy Sector with Loan Guarantees? A Conservative Take, looks to be an interesting one tomorrow.  The discussion brings together panelists from the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center to provide views on multi-billion dollar loan guarantees to conventional and renewable forms of energy.

DOE, water and energy: If you suppress the information, do you solve the problem?

Keith Schneider at Circle of Blue, wrote a very interesting summary of a Sandia National Laboratory report on water consumption for energy production that has been, shall we say, "held up" within DOE despite 22 rounds of revisions.  The report is a more detailed follow-up of an earlier Sandia Report to Congress -- a document that, based

Department of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve DOE’s Ability to Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program

DOE has taken steps to implement the Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) for applicants but has treated applicants inconsistently and lacks mechanisms to identify and address their concerns. Among other things, DOE increased the LGP’s staff, expedited procurement of external reviews, and developed procedures for deciding which projects should receive loan guarantees. However, GAO found:

Minding the Gap: Achieving Energy Success Via a Neutral Policy Platform

Review of key federal policy trends in the energy sector, identifying the unprecendented scale of interventions, and the inadequate attention being paid to incentive alignment and assessment of leverage points. 

Beginning on slide 6, the presentation provides a specific review of how the government's large scale loan guarantee programs (such as under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the proposed much larger federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration") are not structured to achieve proper risk management or high success rates.


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