Steven Chu's Combative, Defensive DOE Exit

After doling out 80% of the Department of Energy (DOE) loan program’s $20.5 billion to President Barack Obama’s top donors, taking three months to plug a hole during the worst marine oil spill in American history, and failing to achieve his stated goal of jacking up U.S. gas prices to the $9 levels in Europe, Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu is finally stepping down.

In a combative and rambling letter to DOE employees, Chu avoided mention of the $535 million taxpayer-funded boondoggle Solyndra that became a hallmark of his DOE legacy and struggled to cobble together a list of “accomplishments.  “I came with dreams,” wrote Chu, “and am leaving with a set of accomplishments that we should all be proud of.”

Chu also defended the $20.5 billion DOE giveaway to Obama bundlers and cronies.  “The Department of Energy made grants and loans to more than 1,300 companies. While critics try hard to discredit the program, the truth is that only one percent of the companies of the companies we funded went bankrupt. That one percent has gotten more attention than the 99 percent that have not,” said Chu. 

Chu’s 1% figure relates, not to the taxpayer dollars squandered, but the actual number of companies officially in bankruptcy.  But a Heritage Foundation compilation of green energy companies receiving taxpayer funds who are bankrupt, firing its workers, or on their way to bankruptcy paints a bigger and more costly picture:  

  1. Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
  2. SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
  3. Solyndra ($535 million)*
  4. Beacon Power ($43 million)*
  5. Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
  6. SunPower ($1.2 billion)
  7. First Solar ($1.46 billion)
  8. Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
  9. EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
  10. Amonix ($5.9 million)
  11. Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
  12. Abound Solar ($400 million)*
  13. A123 Systems ($279 million)*
  14. Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*
  15. Johnson Controls ($299 million)
  16. Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
  17. ECOtality ($126.2 million)
  18. Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
  19. Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
  20. Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
  21. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
  22. Range Fuels ($80 million)*
  23. Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*
  24. Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
  25. Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*
  26. GreenVolts ($500,000)
  27. Vestas ($50 million)
  28. LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)
  29. Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
  30. Navistar ($39 million)
  31. Satcon ($3 million)*
  32. Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*
  33. Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)

*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.

The Institute for Energy Research says Steven Chu’s tenure as Energy Secretary was one marked by policies that aided other nations in gaining economic advantage at the expense of American jobs and economic growth: 

Under his watch, energy consumption in the United States declined by 2.24 percent while our leading economic competitor, China, increased energy consumption by 28 percent. Similarly, GDP growth in the United States has limped along at the anemic annual rate of 0.6 percent while China’s economy has soared at the annual rate of 9.12 percent, more than 15 times our own. Clearly, the policies and priorities of Steven Chu’s energy department have benefited our global competitors and intensified the economic pain felt by millions of unemployed Americans.

Chu leaves the Department of Energy having failed to achieve his stated goal of raising American gas prices to force citizens to drive less.  “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” said Chu in 2008 to the Wall Street Journal.

Chu’s possible replacements include Google’s Dan Reicher, former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and former Democratic Governors Bill Ritter of Colorado and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan.

As for Chu, he plans to move back to California and re-enter academe.


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