Hot air


As certain special interests block this country from harvesting its domestic fossil fuel resources, there's more sobering news from the green energy front.

The recent failures of Solyndra and other solar panel manufacturers need no repetition here. The politicians who ballyhooed those bad investments -- President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and others who risked not a penny of their own personal wealth -- now shrug and say, in effect, "You win some, you lose some."

Yes, but private capitalists, who put their own money on the line, reviewed those outfits and said, "No way," announcing they'd rather burn coal, even under strict new clean air requirements, didn't they?

Now come further indications that a few more bumps in the road may await Nevadans hoping to see their state become a green energy mecca.

Raser Technologies of Utah filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this year "after burning through hundreds of millions of investor financing and a $33 million Treasury Department grant," USA Today reports.

Here in the Silver State, Nevada Geothermal Power admits it has never shown a profit and is at risk of failure. Another favorite of Sen. Reid, the company has received $164 million in federal grants and loans, $98.5 million of that under the same program of Energy Department handouts that blessed the late and unlamented Solyndra.

NGP's Blue Mountain thermal plant was supposed to generate 45 megawatts, but has reached an output of only 35 megawatts -- not enough to cover its overhead plus debt service.

People have seen the potential of geothermal energy since the first visitors to Yellowstone caught trout in a cold stream and tossed them into an adjoining hot spring to cook. Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine in 1698. Thomas Newcomen improved it in 1712. Robert Fulton built the first commercial steamship in 1809, George Stephenson the first steam locomotive in 1814. All in all, it took nearly a century and a half for the steam boiler to change the world.

Now, though, politicians in Washington believe they can short-circuit that kind of development time, pouring billions of tax dollars into trendy, start-up green technologies. But government politicians have proved miserable handicappers of such ventures.

Congress should leave risk-taking in energy development to those who have made it their career.

 

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