As if half billion dollar government guaranteed bankruptcies like Solyndra weren’t enough. That disaster, which most likely begat the latest big “green” project, the $1.4 billion (which of course is another DOE partial loan guarantee) Project Amp and largest rooftop solar project ever devised, it’s got to be a boondoggle somehow. For all that investment they’re going to install solar panels on 88,000 buildings and creating 1000 jobs. That means one guy is only going to do a total of 88 buildings in the life of this project? How many days work is that? A year if he’s on a lot of coffee breaks? I know I’m comparing big apples to little ones here but on the continent of Africa195 barefoot solar trained grandmothers electrified 12,700 houses in 170 villages for about $1.2 million! Do you get the feeling that maybe we’re getting ripped off… again? Time will tell on this one I suppose. I just had to show the film of the Barefoot college project because it’s pretty amazing and everyone should see it.
Now on to the spectacle of watching Al Gore’s electric car die on a Consumer Reports test lot! Yes Fisker Automotive, a company headed by Danish born Henrik Fisker and backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers a venture capital firm in which Al Gore is a partner. The company was made possible by a Department of Energy’s Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program. Yes we the people guaranteed another $528 million for a fancy hybrid car costing in excess of $100K a pop and get this!!! They’re being built in FINLAND! Yes that’s right folks. The cars they promised would be build in Delaware are being produced in the land of the Lapps then shipped over here. Gore must be laughing his ass off at pulling this one off.
Anyhow, so Consumer Reports buys one of these wind up Aston Martin rip offs for $117K and bring it back to their testing facilities only to have the thing completely lock up on them and stuck in the neutral or park position. They can’t get it to go so the dealer had to send a flatbed to come pick it up. Consumer Reports representatives say they have never in their history had a car that became completely undriveable before testing was completed. Considering the amount of money the tax payers guaranteed for this thing, over a half billion dollars, the fact that the car isn’t being produced in the U.S., the production is more than 2 years behind schedule, only 200-300 vehicles have come off the assembly line and the fact that an end product model which was bought and paid for from an authorized U.S. dealer couldn’t even run for 70 miles without falling apart, my guess is we’re looking at another huge tax payer write off in the not too distant future. Oh and I almost forgot! Forbes magazine calculated the Karma’s fuel efficiency including use of the electric motor to be only 19 MPGe! Are you getting mad yet?
So I’ll leave you with this, the $50 light bulb. Yes I did say half a Benjamin to buy a 10 watt LED bulb that is about good enough to replace a 60 watt conventional bulb in your half bath. You know they’ll be taking those bulbs away from you in another couple of years. If you’ve not noticed the100 watt conventional bulbs are already gone. Next it will be your 75’s and then the 60’s. Get ready to feel ripped off again here. Last year the government gave a $10 million prize for a “green” LED bulb that would supposedly help to transition away from incandescent bulbs and give you an alternative to those biohazard mercury filled, radiation emitting compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) we’re being forced into buying from China. Well the grand L Prize Winner of that award was none other than Phillips corporation. Like they needed $10 million in tax payer money to develop a light bulb! It’s their business for crying out loud! Can’t we have a free market and not throw more public money at corporations which already make billions a year? Anyhow their bulb hits the market in a few weeks where it’s sure to sit on the shelves costing double what other LEDs already in stores do and even worse costing 50x that of 60 watt old faithfuls which we’ve had for 100 years and are still thankfully sitting on the shelves. Stock up now while you still can.
As a closing thought, I have to mention the electric car project which GM killed almost well over a decade ago. It was a great car. The 3,000 or so people who got to test run them loved them. They were called the EV1.
Production years 1996 – 1999. It had an effective range of 70 – 100 miles per charge dependent on use of lights and air. If you think about it though, in an average day, how many of us rarely drive more than 10 miles let alone 70 or a 100. For a run around town car it would have worked and there were a heck of a lot of people who wanted them even with the limited range. Thousands wanted it. GM killed it though and sold off the battery technology to Texaco. There isn’t a working model of it or the battery left to even study. Every singe car was crushed like it was Cash for Clunkers. Cars hauled away as the folks who were lucky enough to test them cried and petitioned GM to let them buy their leased vehicles.
There’s a really great documentary about the whole thing which was made in 1999 when those folks were still pretty sore about their cars being taken away. It really makes you want to scratch your head. As a matter of fact this entire article makes one want to bang your head up against a wall.
UPDATE: March 14, 2012
I had to laugh when I saw this video today of a Senate hearing March 13, 2012 where Engergy Director Chu is being practically chewed up over Solyndra, Fisker and $50 light bulbs! Poetic justice!
Forbes even commented on it.