BrightSource got a $1.4 billion bailout from the Department of Energy (DOE). So what, you say. That’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure for you non-military types) for the DOE. What is of interest here is the owner of the company receiving the bailout, and how it was received. Robert Kennedy, Jr., nephew of President John F. Kennedy, got a $1.4 billion bailout for his company, BrightSource, via a loan guarantee from the DOE. Further, the loan guarantee was issued by Sanjay Wagle, a former Kennedy employee at BrightSource. Sanjay Wagle was one of the main BrightSource employees who raised money for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He is now a DOE official advising energy company grants. Coincidence?
The first question is, why does a Kennedy (any Kennedy) need a bailout loan? The second question is, if alternative energy source technology is so great, why does BrightSource need a bailout? But I get off the subject.
BrightSource says that its Ivanpah project is a green jobs creator. Yet as its own website reveals, the thermal solar plant will only create 1,400 construction jobs and 86 permanent jobs. Even using the construction jobs figure of 1,400, that is a cost to taxpayers of $1 million per job created. (Go to the Ivanpah website, hover over the number 1,400 in the center of the page to get employment figures.)
“Investing” taxpayer money in BrightSource is risky. In 2010, BrightSource, whose largest shareholder is Kennedy’s VantagePoint Partners, had debt obligations of $1.8 billion. BrightSource lost $71.6 million in 2010 on $13.5 million of revenue. My research has not uncovered any evidence that BrightSource is doing any better in 2011.
BrightSource advertises the Coalinga project, which it calls a demonstration facility, on its website. BrightSource says Coalinga was intended to be a proving ground, and it had estimated losses of $10.5 million at that time. But, as of June 30, 2011, BrightSource says its loss has been $58.6 million, “or $48.1 million greater than the initial loss estimate as recognized in December 2008.” These cost overruns are causing worry because BrightSource is currently building a much larger 392 MW farm, the Ivanpah project. Are we beginning to connect the dots here? This information was not featured, or even mentioned, on 60 Minutes. This revelation is by investigative journalist and Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer in his new book, Throw Them All Out. And, as Ronald Reagan said, “Facts are stubborn things.”