Barry and Harry continue to scratch the back of those who support them with lots of scratch

I call it money laundering.

This week the Obama administration’s Interior Department identified thousands of acres of public land suitable for solar energy projects, including five sites in Nevada, which already has several solar energy projects on public land.

The Silver State North Project in the Ivanpah Valley near the California border was the first utility-scale photovoltaic farm built on public land anywhere in the United States. That project is owned by First Solar Inc.

Robert Gillette

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently toured the plant and touted its success.

By pure coincidence, earlier this week, the CEO of First Solar, Robert J. Gillette of Arizona, resigned. According to, he received $29.9 million in pay for 15 months on the job and is eligible for a severance package worth another $8.9 million. He got a $5 million signing bonus when he was lured away from Honeywell International. Since then First Solar’s stock has dropped about 60 percent.

The stock this morning is trading at about $54, a bit down from the 52-week high of $175.

Bloomberg reports First Solar received $3.07 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government to support its projects.

The ratepayers of NV Energy will be paying more than 13 cents per Kwh for power from First Solar’s Ivanpan facility, even though the company could purchase power from a natural gas-fired plant for about 4 cents a Kwh or less, since the price of natural gas keeps going down.

But Gillette did not keep all of those millions. He gave some of it away.

He gave $5,000 to First Solar’s PAC, which in turn gave $2,000 to Dianne Feinstein’s campaign.

Earlier he gave a few thousands to Honeywell’s PAC, which gave $5,000 to Harry Reid’s campaign in 2009 alone and nearly $10,000 in prior years. That PAC gave more than $20,000 to Harry’s Searchlight Leadership Fund. It also gave thousands to the Senate Majority Fund, while Harry was the majority leader, as well as a few thousands to the campaigns of Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi.

Gillette was replaced by company Chairman Michael Ahearn, who, along with his wife, has given $123,000 to various Democratic candidates in recent years. He also gave a few thousand to the Solar Energy Industry Association PAC, which gave generously to, you guessed it, Harry Reid. There were also a few donations for the Senate campaign of one Ken Salazar.

You pay your taxes. You pay your power bill. They spread it around amongst themselves. Isn’t that cozy?

What Harry and Barry failed to mention is that the array that will save $1 million a year cost $100 million to build and has a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.

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21 comments on “Barry and Harry continue to scratch the back of those who support them with lots of scratch

  1. Bruce Feher says:

    I call it money laundering……..

  2. nyp10025 says:

    So if making a political contribution to a politician who subsequently supports policies that benefit the donor constitutes “money laundering,” why isn’t it illegal to make such contributions.

    ironically, not only does Mr. Mitchell oppose any restrictions on the sorts of campaign contributions that he denounces here as money laundering, but he also opposes the laws that require disclosure of such contributions.

  3. Candidates are different from causes. People should be able to send their money without disclosing. Candidates must disclose where they get it.

  4. Steve says:

    Nice, ROI 70 or 80 years after the life expectancy of the plant. Seems like we will never get value from this one.

    Of course the last gasp of the solar faithfull will be “externalities”. To which I say thanks. Pay your bills with externalities. I will continue to use federal reserve notes to pay my bills. Lets see who shows up on the credit report first.

  5. nyp10025 says:

    Philosophically, why is a “candidate” different from a “cause?” People give money to a candidate because they want to achieve a particular political outcome. People give money to a cause because they want to achieve a particular political outcome.

  6. The candidate is a creation of the state.

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. nyp10025 says:

    No, a candidate is not a “creation of the state.” That sounds profound for about 3 seconds, but it doesn’t mean anything.
    Certainly not any more than a governmental policy (say, a restriction on dumping chemicals into a waterway) that a citizen wishes to reverse by contributing to either a “cause” or a “campaign.”

  8. Athos says:

    All right! Little petey shows up on Tom’s website to try and poison the well! Hello, little petey. Finally get your marching orders, eh?

    Solar energy subsidies are crony capitalism at its finest. Who’s getting rich off the backs of the tax payers and the rate payers? What an opportunity to make bundles of risk free cash!

    It would be like going to the casinos. Saddle up to some high roller, use his money to gamble, if you win, you keep the winnings. If you lose, you keep the winnings.

    Of course, your high roller may expect some quid pro quo later on in the privacy of his villa.

    Oh well. “The ends (me getting rich) justify the means (the loss of my integrity, dignity, and independence)”.

    And for the record, little petey, in our current system, you advocate that it’s OK for “pay to play”, right? (as long as you belong to the enlightened party, that is)

  9. nyp10025 says:

    1. I suppose loan guarantees, investment tax credits, accelerated
    depreciation schedules and other policies designed to jump start industries that we consider strategically important are no different from similar subsidies to oil & gas producers and mining interests. My position is that if they work and if they serve a recognized social purpose I am for them. If they don’t work I am against them.
    Mr. Mitchell’s view is different. If the government support for private industry relates to something that somehow carries a residual tinge of hippie-dom, such as solar panels, wind turbines, high-efficiency battaries, he is categorically against it, any any government official who supports it or participates in such programs must be corrupt. However, if the subsidy, guarantee or tax expenditure is for what he considers a more manly sort of activity, such as oil drilling or the manufacture of corporate aircraft, he doesn’t have much to say.
    2. I think all political contributions should be disclosed, that PACS should be outlawed, and that campaigns should be publicly financed.

  10. Steve says:

    Pete, no. I point out the fact this power station is a money losing oportunity. That is the primary reason to hold it contempt. All the rest of the reasons simply follow the bad investment making it stink all the worse.

    “if they serve a recognized social purpose”
    In other words “externalities” There you have the crux. These solar and wind plants do not work because they do not pencil out. 1/2 of your requirement is not fulfillied Pete, you should be against wind and solar as a central, city power source.

    Personal use is a possibility but once again does not pencil out with out 50% subsidies. Oil and gas do not recieve anywhere near the “subsidy” that solar and wind do, even if one were to add every last possible deduction oil and gas companies take and ignore the deductions solar and wind take in addition to the direct subsidies they are getting today.

  11. No, all government manipulation is wrong and counterproductive. I have solar panels. Half the cost was paid by the ratepayers of Nevada. Doesn’t make it right. At one time my lifestyle probably could’ve described as hippie-dom. How I spend my money is my business. How government spends my money is my business.

  12. Athos says:

    Little petey, you’re not only wrong, you’re DEAD wrong. I’m against all government picking “winners and losers” in the subsidy business.

    But I’m vehemently against government picking LOSING PROPOSITIONS to laud OUR tax money on! So far, all of our money going to prop up “green jobs” is a CON job. ROI kicks in 80 years after the shelf life of these assets? Pul-lease!

    IF this is a valuable endeavor, then let the FREE market pick up the cost. NOT me, my kids, my kids’ kids, my kids’ kids’ kids, etc, etc, etc.

    I can see this Robert Gillette laughing all the way to the bank! NOW THERE’S another Andrew Carnegie for you!

  13. Steve says:

    Another thing for the left to swallow out there, just how does higher electricity cost help the poor?

    Or did you all not think of that part of the plan….

  14. Why, the poor can’t afford flatscreen TVs, air conditioning, cell phones and computers, right? So, no problem.

  15. Steve says:

    I think “Rich Man Poor Man” fits well:

  16. In addition to ruining the landscape of America with these solar scapes they really are not reliable. I also think this land grabbing has gone far enough, we’ll be living on a postage stamp pretty soon. Obama is more business man since he got into office than he is President, considering his presidency maybe thats a good thing ,

  17. Crony capitalism is all they know how to do.

  18. […] you remember how Arizona-based First Solar, which has a photovoltaic solar farm in Ivanpah Valley near the […]

  19. […] Solar’s former CEO, Robert Gillette, was a big contributor to Honeywell PAC, which gave $5,000 to Harry Reid’s campaign in 2009 alone and nearly $10,000 in […]

  20. […] Solar’s former CEO, Robert Gillette, was a big contributor to Honeywell PAC, which gave $5,000 to Harry Reid’s campaign in 2009 alone and nearly $10,000 in […]

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