Planet Gore

Obama vs. Government Subsidies to Develop Green Energy

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Last week, in a move that pits American labor against China’s green-technology industry, the Obama administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s wind-power subsidies.

The U.S. move challenges China’s rapid growth in the renewable-energy market, and also throws the weight of the administration behind the unions, elevating concern about Chinese competition to the level of official U.S. policy.

The complaint falls on the heels of a 5,800-page filing made in September by the United Steelworkers against China, arguing that its renewable-energy subsidies violate international trade regulations. According to that filing, China defied trade agreements by providing land grants and low-interest loans in order to produce clean technology at artificially low prices.

Yes, we can’t have China’s subsidized energy projects interfered with U.S. subsidized energy projects now, can we?

What do the California Solar Valley Ranch (250MW AC) and Agua Caliente (290MW AC) projects have in common? The obvious link is NRG Solar, which recently agreed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in equity investments and eventually buy the pair outright from SunPower and First Solar, respectively. But arguably the most important commonality the two projects share is this: both deals hinge on whether or not they get financing assistance from the Federal government in the form of a DOE loan guarantee.

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