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Genesis: Latest Taxpayer-Backed Solar Project Stalls

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By Doug Powers  •  February 14, 2012 04:51 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Last August, the Department of Energy finalized a partial guarantee on an $852 million loan to the Genesis Solar Project.

Genesis is the latest in a long line of taxpayer-backed “clean energy” projects that’s teetering on the edge of the cavernous green money pit. Here’s why:

One of California’s showcase solar energy projects, under construction in the desert east of Los Angeles, is being threatened by a deadly outbreak of distemper among kit foxes and the discovery of a prehistoric human settlement on the work site.

The $1-billion Genesis Solar Energy Project has been expedited by state and federal regulatory agencies that are eager to demonstrate that the nation can build solar plants quickly to ease dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming.

Instead, the project is providing a cautionary example of how the rush to harness solar power in the desert can go wrong — possibly costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and dealing an embarrassing blow to the Obama administration’s solar initiative.

Genesis had hoped to be among the first of 12 approved solar farms to start operating in Southern California deserts. To do so, it had to meet certain deadlines to receive federal assistance. The 250-megwatt plant, being built on federal Bureau of Land Management land 25 miles west of Blythe, is backed by an $825-million Department of Energy loan guarantee.
[…]
Plans for Genesis call for parabolic-trough solar thermal technology to create enough energy to power 187,500 homes. But last fall, as crews began installing pylons and support arms for parabolic mirrors across 1,950 acres of land leveled by earthmovers, the company ran into unexpected environmental and cultural obstacles — the kind that critics say could probably have been avoided by more rigorous research and planning.

DoE officials are worried that if the foxes keep delaying Genesis, construction won’t be completed in time for it to declare bankruptcy.

As for the prehistoric human settlement, unreliable sources tell me that pictographs found at the site seem to depict an entire civilization getting crushed under the weight of what appears to be a giant solar panel next to dollar signs flying out a window, which appears above a caption that translates to “don’t make the same mistake we did.” Administration officials are still trying to decipher the meaning of that while moving forward with the Genesis Project at any and all costs.

One way to ensure more rigorous research and scrutiny on the part of government when it comes to these “clean energy” startups would be to tell the administration the proposals are for oil pipelines instead of solar projects. You want due diligence, you got it.

In related news, as the kit fox distember outbreak plagues the Genesis Solar site, there’s been an outbreak of taxpayer distemper in other parts of the country.

(h/t Katie Pavlich)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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