Chu: I give myself an A-minus on managing taxpayer investments
posted at 1:55 pm on March 1, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Consider this your spit-take moment of the day. After overruling Department of Energy auditors and losing $535 million on Solyndra, as well as a number of other green-tech flops, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu gives himself a pretty good grade as a steward of public funds. In fact, after Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) asks him to assign himself a grade, Chu goes one better than Barack Obama’s one-year self-assessment of a “good, solid B-plus”:
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA): “Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary I believe that the federal government should not be picking winners and losers in the market place. Seems to me the DOE has repeatedly proven that this Administration is clueless when it comes to making good business investments and that it also tends to side with political crony companies. Unfortunately the Department’s political favors come with more than a billion dollar price tag that will have to be paid for by American taxpayers. Time and time again we’ve seen companies like Abound, Solar, Beacon Power, A123 batteries and, of course, Solyndra, receive millions and billions of dollars just to drop jobs. In addition to those 465,000 or 465 million that went to Tesla Motors to make a luxury electric car with a sticker price of $100,000. Worst kind of corporate welfare. In the President’s energy budget, the few people who would be able to afford those cars would receive a $10,000 tax subsidy. How can President Obama justify asking for more than a half a billion dollars in additional funding for his preferred green programs? Secretary Chu you tell me why you think your department deserves more taxpayer money to blow through given your abysmal track record. What grade would you say you deserve for your management of the DOE resources over the last three years?”
Department Of Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Well I would give myself a pretty good grade because if you look at what we’ve done, and what we’ve supported, and the breakthroughs that have occurred during this tenure, I think it speaks very well. As I said before, that battery research has been going extremely well, way ahead of what we thought was the schedule. We’re very focused on a lot of the good technologies on solar technologies, and as another example, the bioenergy, the bioenergy centers that which were started under the previous administration have done extremely well and we’re continuing funding those. A lot of the inventions and technologies are now being licensed by companies and they’re entering into pilot production. So there are many successes in the technologies that the Department of Energy has supported and the private sector, American industry, are picking up these technologies.”
Broun: “So what grade would you give yourself?”
Chu: “Oh -”
Broun: “A to F, what grade would you give yourself?”
Chu: “There’s always room for improvement, maybe an A-.”
Well, thank goodness that “there’s always room for improvement.” Here are a few of Chu’s greatest hits, er, areas of potential improvement:
- Solyndra – $535 million lost
- Ener1 – $118.5 million lost
- Beacon Power – $43 million lost
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory – $200 million resulted in net loss of 100 jobs
CBS News counted 12 clean energy companies that are having trouble after collectively being approved for more than $6.5 billion in federal assistance. Five have filed for bankruptcy: The junk bond-rated Beacon, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, AES’ subsidiary Eastern Energy and Solyndra.
There is a lot of room for improvement, unless the goal is to destroy capital by seizing it from taxpayers and sinking it into one bad investment after another. If that was the goal, then Chu deserves an A-plus.