The Corner

Ex-Im: A Big Double-Dipping Opportunity for Green-Energy Firms

In this week’s chart series, I look one of the industries that has enjoyed considerable growth in Ex-Im assistance: the green energy and sustainability sector. Natural-gas-related projects received the largest amounts in Ex-Im Bank assistance of all green-energy projects, pulling in $11.8 billion in assistance from FY 2007 to FY 2014, or 62 percent of the green portfolio. Solar energy comes in the second spot, with $3.7 billion in assistance, or almost 20 percent of the portfolio. Nuclear projects received roughly $1.8 billion in assistance, while wind projects received $1 billion in assistance.

Maybe more interestingly, the data shows that many firms “double dip” into Uncle Sam’s many corporate-welfare programs. Take the the Department of Energy’s various loan programs – many of the firms that benefited from these programs also benefit from Ex-Im support. Here is a chart:

Of course, the double dipping doesn’t stop there: Many of these firms also benefited from the Department of Treasury’s 1603 grant program and from numerous state’s tax credits and mandates. That’s true of U.S. companies like GE (which provide turbines to many government-funded green-energy companies) but also of foreign companies like Abengoa,  a Spanish multinational.

Speaking of Abengoa, the large amounts of assistance provided to the firm by the U.S government could raise possible conflicts of interest. The company benefited from $2.8 billion in assistance from the DEpartment of Energy, $203.9 million in help from the Export-Import Bank, and significant money from the Department of Treasury for its project in Minnesota and another project in Arizona.

As it turns out, former vice president and green-energy advocate Al Gore bought a large stake in Abengoa in 2007. Former New Mexico governor (and Obama administration ally) Bill Richardson is a member of the Abengoa International Advisory Board. Richardson was also a member of the 2013 Advisory Committee that guides Ex-Im policy. 

And the above aren’t even all of the beneifts Abengoa’s gotten: In 2012, the Department of the Interior fast-tracked approval for Abengoa loans; the firm received generous investment tax credits to open its (Obama-endorsed) Solana project in 2008; the predominately U.S.-funded Inter-American Development Bank, where Richardson sat on its selection committee, awarded Abengoa a $41 million loan for a wind-energy project; and Abengoa received a special $2 million “SunShot” award grant from DOE in 2013. The icing on the cake? Bill Richardson is a former Department of Energy secretary.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Most Popular

White House

Another Warning Sign

The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More
U.S.

Supreme Court Mulls Citizenship Question for Census

Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More
Film & TV

Jesus Is Not the Joker

Actors love to think they can play anything, but the job of any half-decent filmmaker is to tell them when they’re not right for a part. If the Rock wants to play Kurt Cobain, try to talk him out of it. Adam Sandler as King Lear is not a great match. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. He’s playing Jesus ... Read More