National Politics | Politics

Green federal boondoggle's high-paid employees

Photo by Watchdog.org

Green Energy? Follow the money!

What a claim by this Colorado Congressman — there’d be no problem here if it wasn’t for that doggone Tea Party. Hey, Congressman Perlmutter, would there be continuing subsidies if these cronies of yours didn’t donate to your campaign? Thank goodness someone is trying to track wasteful spending. . .  because you are not.

Secret energy lab spawns million dollar govt employee
By Tori Richards and Earl Glynn
Colorado Watchdog

GOLDEN, Colo. – If you live outside Colorado, you probably haven’t heard of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – NREL for short. It’s the place where solar panels, windmills and corn are deemed the energy source of the future and companies who support such endeavors are courted.

It’s also the place where highly paid staff decide how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars. And the public pays those decision-makers well:  NREL’s top executive, Dr. Dan Arvizu, makes close to a million dollars per year. His two top lieutenants rake in more than half a million each and nine others make more than $350,000 a year.

“NREL has given us two of the most significant boondoggles, one of them being ethanol and the other being (bankrupt) Abound Solar,” says Energy expert Amy Oliver Cooke (of the Independence Institute).

NREL’s taxpayer-funded management company has seen its budget more than double since 2006. That’s when one of its most ardent supporters, Rep. Ed Perlmutter D-Lakewood, was first elected to Congress. The lab sits in the middle of his district. But Perlmutter’s ties go beyond merely promoting green legislation and lobbying his colleagues for NREL funds. He has received $12,670 in campaign contributions from executives of NREL and its management company, MRIGlobal. . . . Perlmuter’s father has served as a trustee for MRI and MRIGlobal during the past decade. Between 2003 and 2005, Perlmutter was also a trustee. These positions were unpaid.

By the time Perlmutter was elected, NREL’s budget was $209.6 million. It increased steadily before ballooning to $536.5, a beneficiary of President Obama’s stimulus plan and a $135 million contract spread out over five years to construct a new science center.

Meanwhile, as energy expert Cooke predicts, the green business is still shaking out unsustainable ventures. The Danish wind company Vestas, which has several Colorado production sites, announced on Nov. 7  that it will shed 6,700 jobs through the end of next year. Who’s to blame for the industry’s troubles? Government subsidies? Poorly run companies? Insufficient demand? Foreign competition?

Perlmutter blamed the Tea Party.

“It is clean and it is the future of energy production,” Perlmutter wrote on his website. “Until the Tea Party took over this has always been a simple, noncontroversial tax credit.”

Frank Beckmann
Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on 760 AM-WJR Talk Radio. His Detroit News column appears every Friday in The Detroit News. He is also the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan football. In 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 Beckmann was named the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Personality / Team of the Year, and won the MAB Award for “Best News Special” for his 9/11 Anniversary Broadcast in New York City. Beckmann was cited by the Detroit Press Club Foundation as a 2007 Michigan Excellence in Journalism winner and received the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association Ty Tyson Award in 2010. Beckmann was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall Of Fame in 2008.