Report: Billions in green energy stimulus funding given to foreign corporations

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A congressional report found that foreign companies have been large beneficiaries of stimulus funds and received billions of dollars funds meant to promote green energy development and create jobs in the United States.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee staff examined Treasury Department data and found that nearly one-quarter of the $16 billion in Section 1603 green energy grants went to a handful of large European and Asian renewable energy companies.

“Billions of dollars have filled the coffers of overseas firms while the evidence of the promised permanent jobs and economic growth here in the United States is scarce,” reads the report. “With these grants, foreign companies appear to have unduly benefited from a program ostensibly aimed at stimulating the U.S. economy, growing American businesses, and creating U.S. jobs.”

One of the largest recipients of these green energy funds was Iberdrola Renewables LLC — a U.S. division of the Spain-based Iberdrola, S.A. — which got $1.8 billion, 11 percent of the total awarded Section 1603 funds, for renewable projects throughout the U.S. The report notes that Iberdrola Renewables is, “one of the largest, if not the single-largest, owner of Section 1603 grant-recipient projects in the U.S.”

Another U.S. subsidiary of a Spanish company, EDP Renewables North America LLC, received more than $722 million in Section 1603 funds for wind projects throughout the U.S.

“The more we learn about DOE’s stimulus spending, the worse it appears,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy in a statement. “The 1603 green energy program failed to deliver the jobs promised, and now we learn that a significant portion of these taxpayer-funded grants are benefiting foreign competitors rather than boosting American industry.”

The Section 1603 program was created through the 2009 stimulus package as a grant program to promote renewable energy development in the U.S. and has handed out nearly $16 billion as of December 2012. According to the Treasury Department, $13 billion was already given to over 45,000 to renewable energy projects, including $10.8 billion to wind projects and $3.8 billion to solar projects.

However, job creation from these grants has been modest and come at a substantial cost. Some experts saying the government has spent $1.2 million per job, according to the report.

The report adds that the handouts to foreign companies have only served to reinforce the trend of global dominance of foreign companies in renewable energy markets. For example, nine out of the top-ten global wind turbine supply companies were headquartered outside of the U.S., according to the report.

“With $16 trillion in debt, we cannot afford to send one out of every four taxpayer dollars overseas for a program that has failed to create the jobs promised,” said Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

At the end of 2012, $6 billion in Section 1603 funds had not been paid out to projects that began construction by Dec. 31, 2011.

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