Awkward: Obama administration finally, excitedly begins selling solar leases, and nobody shows up to buy them
posted at 1:21 pm on October 25, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
The Obama administration has been pretty jazzed about their sweet plans to auction off leases for certain parcels of the one-third of the surface area of the United States they control, largely in the western United States, for the express purposes of developing wind and solar farms to which they hope they’ll be able to point as evidence of the success of their not-quite-“all of the above” energy agenda. The Interior Department has been working on fast-tracking this signature project for awhile now (while a bunch of drilling permits were gathering dust in the corner), and this week finally marked the exciting occasion of their first auction of land for solar development.
I think it’s safe to surmise that the day was something of a letdown for them, via the Denver Business Journal:
The nation’s first federally run auction for a chance to develop solar power projects on public lands was a bust.
“We did not have any bidders come to the sale and we did not receive any sealed bids on the sale,” BLM spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo said. …
“The BLM had received interest in developing the sites, that’s why we moved forward,” she said. “It’s hard to say why we didn’t have any bidders.” …
“We will evaluate today’s auction as we look at future opportunities to offer lands in Solar Energy Zones for development, both in Colorado and other Western states,” the statement said.
Oof. While I’m sure that the Obama administration will find someone to take them up on their magnanimous offer in fairly short order (recent history would indicate that they have few qualms about further sweetening the deal for a potential buyer if necessary), I can’t say I’m surprised. The administration held the auction because they did get applications and inquiries earlier in the year, but this project’s initiation is happening while investment in renewables is dropping off sharply (and I do mean actual investment here, not “investments” in the way that Obama uses it to apply to his politically/ideologically-driven disbursement of public funds). Via Bloomberg:
Clean-energy investment fell 14 percent in the third quarter from the prior three months as Europe curbed subsidies and cheaper U.S. natural gas lured investment.
The $45.9 billion spent makes it “almost certain” that annual investment in renewables and energy-smart technologies will fall for the second consecutive year from $281 billion in 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a statement.
Investment in the quarter was 20 percent lower than the same period last year as spending in China, the U.S. and Europe fell. The U.S. saw the largest decline, sliding 41 percent to $5.5 billion…
While the $45.9 billion is still substantial and greater than that invested in 2004, the “loss of momentum since 2011 is worrying,” he said.
It’s yet more evidence of a lesson that greenies seem so reluctant to learn: You can openly advocate for policies that run counter to positive economic growth, like higher utility costs, subsidies, and more intrusive federal regulation all you want; just don’t be surprised when a less-than-robust economy means that nobody feels inclined to spend their hard-earned dollars on further developing the new technologies and innovations that greenies claim to prefer.