Saturday, March 20, 2010

What if we could nip this “renewable energy bubble” right in the bud?

Not what you expected to talk about this morning out on the backporch,
I’m sure you’d agree.

I’ve been thinking about this for sometime and a couple of news tidbits
I discovered made me think this idea might be possible, and might even
gain some traction if people actually thought about it, in a simple way,
not via some fancy spread sheet or computer math model concocted by
some graduate student at MIT or Stanford.

First, considering that Alan Greenspan, former head of the WORLDS MOST
, didn’t realize a bubble was building up, getting
frothier and frothier, with all the spreadsheets and math models available
at his command, in the housing market, it stands to reason that the fed BLM
and DOE and Department of the Interior wouldn’t see one forming either.

Consider this quote(and I will provide a link at the end of this post)-"They will be the most risky tranche of debt. But without loan guarantees, no one is lending." What
the quote pertains to is the renewable energy firms,in this case BrightSource,
looking for financing in the capital markets. Remember that word, tranche?
That’s french for slice, as in packaging up securities and slicing them up to
sell to investors worldwide.

In case memory fails you, I, of course, am referring to the “came out of
nowhere per the talking heads” housing bubble, where the absolute crappiest
loans with no income or credit verification,etc were packaged together in a
steaming, smelly, road apple bundle, then were tranched and repackaged
in new portfolios of mortgaged backed securities or collateralized debt
obligations,these were run by the bond rating services, given the absolute highest debt
rating, as good as the U.S. government’s, then were sold by Wall Street’s
top investment banks around the world to everyone from central banks to small
villages in Finland, resulting a near collapse of the world financial system.

This of course, resulted in financial ruin for some and huge bonuses for others.

I fear the same old wall street story is about to happen again. The same old
two step music is starting up again.

BrightSource has already got their 1.37 BILLION DOLLAR loan guarantee from
the DOE and others will get theirs shortly. They can’t get the money on the
capital markets without them, any fool can do the math, and realize that building
hundreds of miles out in the middle of nowhere, and producing power at a cost
at least twice that of a conventional power plant, even an old bus driver like me
can see the handwriting on the wall- LOSER!

But when you rush through the permitting and approval process, with all state
and federal agencies working at lightspeed compared to their usual glacial speed,
with everyone from Obama on down to the governator cheerleading the process-
it just seems to me that the projects are moving too far and too fast, that any
issues like environmental concerns are getting glossed over in the rush to grab
hold of the gravy train before it leaves the station.

So everyone rushes in to grab the Obama Bucks before Washington comes to its’
senses or the next shoe falls due to this economic slowdown and the money dries up,
an unseemly sight for sure. Now, I know the opinion makers want these projects
to startup by the deadline for fed funds to kick in, once the dough’s coming through
the pipeline, it’s hard to shut off the spigot, especially since it’s for “clean, renewable
. Here’s where it’s “bubble popping” time.

I may be wrong but it seems to me that at this point the stringent NEPA rules
and laws should kick in. And I think those officials responsible, with help from
environmental groups and intervenors, need to take a cold, hard, “eagle eye”
looks at these proposals to
ensure the will and intent of Congress
is followed by the executive branch and state administrative
agencies charged with the startup process for these
proposals, that the environmental laws be carried out in law and spirit,
keeping that will and intent in mind, ensuring said compliance through the
co-equal judicial branch of government if necessary.

While said review is being undertaken, all efforts should be made to get the public
involved in this process, by any means. I have seen through just this small, insignificant
blog, how people can be made aware of a developing situation. Just imagine, an army
of bloggers, open to the suggestion that we shouldn’t pave over the Mojave just
so the bureaucrats can meet some self- imposed deadline, or Wall Street can ruin
us again with another self inflated bubble. I am certain with the talented writing
I’ve read and come across so far, there is enough creative will and ability,
enough right thinking people out there ready and willing to sacrifice some
time, money, and effort to get the process going!

My goal would be harnessing this energy with the goal of killing the BrightSource
project, let it be still born. It’s the project farthest along the path, if it’s stopped, the
froth won’t even have any time to form on the glass, the glass will be broke and
the liquid drying up in the glare of that hot desert sun.

And maybe then, when the momentum on the other side has been slowed or
stopped, then, finally the other side might be amenable, more reasonable about
the prospects for distributed home power.

Here are a couple of links for your viewing:

I leave you with this photo for an obvious reason my friends. We need to wrap
ourselves in this fabric, I assure you the other side will.
archivecd18 200

Vaya con dios, my friends and fellow desert lovers. You will
need his strength and guidance during the struggle to come.

Always remember, that your comments are welcomed out
here on the backporch, and are very, very important to me personally.
Thanks to your comments, I feel like I am not alone and that I have
people standing at my shoulder, we together, trust me, can be a
formidable foe to those who intend to destroy your beautiful
Mojave Desert.