The Failed Record of DOE Capital Investing

Posted: May 29, 2012 by ShortTimer in 2012 Campaign, Economics, Environmentalism, Government, Obama administration

From American Spectator:

We’re heard a lot about Bain Capital and how it throws people out of work in order to enrich investors, but how about the record of DOE Capital, which has compiled a fantastic record of defrauding investors while benefiting cronies and insiders?

DOE Capital is a Washington-based investment operation that looks for fledgling companies in the field of renewable energy and pours money into them in an attempt to get them get them up and running, building value and creating jobs. Although its purposes are noteworthy, its performance has been at best spotty, at worst catastrophic.

In 2008, for instance, DOE Capital invested in Range Fuels, a company that claimed to have solved the long-standing problem of extracting ethanol from cellulosic plant material. In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President George Bush, Jr. had charged America with being “addicted to oil” and promised cellulosic ethanol from “switchgrass” and other materials as the solution. Charging right ahead, Congress adopted the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandated the consumption of 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2010, 250 million by 2011, and 500 million in 2022 at a time when no one had yet mastered the technology.

Months later, Range Fuels, a Colorado company, claimed to have the answer. In November 2007, Range broke ground on a plant in Soberton, Georgia, promising to generate 100 million gallons of ethanol a year out of pine-logging wastes. Before it even built the plant, Range Fuels won the 2008 North American Fuels Technology Innovation Award for Green Excellence. Full production was promised in 2009.

By 2010, Range hadn’t gotten anywhere, however, and so DOE Capital sunk $50 million into the project. The State of Georgia contributed another $6 million and the U.S. Department of Agriculture added an $80 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Biorefinery Assistance Program. Still, Range was unable to produce a single gallon of cellulosic ethanol. In January 2011 it finally opened the factory and produced one 200-gallon run of methanol, which can’t be used in cars, and then closed down. Dozens of people were put out of work and the job benefits promised to the region never materialized. By making that single run of methanol, however, Range was able to collect the last $26 million from DOE Capital, leaving the venture outfit holding the bag. DOE lost its entire investment — but Range tried to make up for it by donating to DOE’s favorite causes.

And then it gets worse from there.  Read the whole thing.

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