Tag Archives: Exelon

Exelon Receives Another Deal from the Obama Administration

by Whitney Pitcher

cronyism00591

It is encouraging to see increased American development of energy having a worldwide impact. However, such impact should not come at the expense of subsidies and loans footed by the American taxpayer or special deals. Exelon, the largest nuclear energy company in America, has a diverse energy production portfolio. They also are involved in liquefied natural gas production and solar energy. With the current natural gas glut, prices are quite low, which has cut into Exelon’s profits. These low prices also make natural gas power plants competitive with Exelon’s nuclear plants. Never fear for Exelon though! The Obama administration is on the way! As an article at Crain’s Chicago Business reports: 

Exelon Corp. got a win last week when the U.S. Energy Department allowed a group of investors to build a facility in Texas that will export liquefied natural gas to countries without free-trade agreements with the U.S.

Don’t see the connection? Every cubic foot of natural gas that’s liquefied and shipped overseas is a cubic foot that doesn’t get sold at rock-bottom prices to gas-fired power plants that compete with Exelon’s nuclear plants. Low gas prices enable gas-fired plants to sell electricity cheaper, bringing down prices in wholesale power markets.

[…]

Exporting to non-free-trade countries requires special permission from the Department of Energy. Heated debate over the policy has erupted in recent months. Natural gas producers are pushing for more freedom to export, while environmental groups and big gas users like Dow Chemical Co. defend the current restrictions

Some see last week’s decision on the Texas facility as a sign President Barack Obama is leaning toward a looser export policy. It’s a little early to draw that conclusion. Rather than articulating a broad policy shift, the administration says it will evaluate proposed non-FTA export facilities on a case-by-case basis. Until Friday, the DOE hadn’t approved one since 2011. Nineteen applications are pending.

Seeing the implication that President Obama is going to loosen policy on anything related to non “green” energy development is a surprise. There is perhaps reason to evaluate such special situations for export to non-free trade countries, but when a company like Exelon receives a deal, it is suspect. Exelon has a reputation for being an energy giant, but it also has a reputation for its ties to President Obama.

As a Senator, Obama watered down an anti-nuclear energy bill to help Exelon. Why? In 2008, Exelon was Obama’s four largest donor. Additionally, Exelon has spent tens of millions of dollars for lobbying since President Obama took office. This lobbying has paid off. An Exelon acquired solar energy company received a $646 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2011 to build a solar energy plant.

It is exciting to see that natural gas production is booming in such a way that producers have opportunity to energize America and have opportunity for export. It is discouraging that “case-by-case” export opportunities are going to companies who have the political connections and clout to continue to receive special deals.

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Why Is the Illinois GOP Honoring an Obama Crony?

by Whitney Pitcher

GOP elephant

The Illinois Review reported today that the Illinois Republican Party will honor David W Rowe, the Chairman Emeritus of Exelon, an Illinois company and the top nuclear energy company in the country:

CHICAGO – Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady and Finance Chairman Sandy Stuart will be honoring Exelon Chairman Emeritus John W. Rowe March 19th with a special reception at the Chicago Club. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will also be in attendance.

Rowe made news in 2009 when he led Exelon’s split with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber’s opposition to cap and trade.Reportedly armed with negotiated exceptions on how the proposed tax system would affect Exelon, Rowe pushed for the cap and trade tax’s passage. During a Wheeling Township GOP meeting, then Congressman Mark Kirk publicly credited Exelon’s CEO with influencing Kirk’s vote in favor of cap and trade.

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The ILGOP honoree has an interesting donor record. Over the past 12 years, Rowe has written 96 checks to political candidates in Illinois state and local elections, totaling $232,000+. Over $123,800 has gone to Democrats and $83,000 to Republicans. He has donated thousands of dollars to Chicago Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel, as well as Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (D), and Burke’s wife Anne who is an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. He’s also written checks to Cook County Board President John Stroger, his son Todd, and current board president Toni Preckwinkle.

To provide some perspective on the candidates Rowe has backed, Preckwinkle, as I have written before, is the Cook county board president who helped secure a $100 million a year Obamacare waiver for the county to allow them to expand Medicaid early. Preckwinkle was also the woman who introduced President Obama to Reverend Wright and once said that President Reagan could “rot in hell”.

Rowe also has donated to President Obama. Exelon,as a company, was President Obama’s fourth largest donor in 2008. Additionally,in 2008, Senator Obama watered down nuclear regulations while accepting nearly a quarter million dollars in campaign contributions from the Exelon. Obama buddy, David Axlerod was also once a consultant to the company, and in 2011, Exelon received a more than half billion dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to build a solar plant in California.

To be sure, Rowe’s contributions include a good deal of money to Illinois Republicans as well as more than $22,000 to the RNC, $10,000 to the NRSC and a good deal to state level Republicans as the Illinois Review reported, and he is connected with one of the largest businesses in the state. However, what kind of a message is the state GOP and Reince Priebus trying to send by honoring an Obama crony who seems to possess no ideological compass? Sadly, it seems that this is only further proof that the already blurry line between Illinois Democrats and Illinois Republicans is becoming increasingly more blurry. We are governed by a single party–corruptocrats.

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Shining Sunlight on the Crony Capitalism of President Obama and Solar Energy Companies

by Whitney Pitcher
On a recent appearance on Judge Napolitano’s show , Governor Palin stated that the failed solar panel company, Solyndra, was just the beginning of what she calls “crony capitalism on steroids”. She noted:

We’re going to see much revelation of other companies too that are receiving our tax dollars that we don’t have, that we’re borrowing from China and we’re printing out of thin air in order to fund some of these entities that have friends in the White House and on Wall Street. And we’re the ones in the end, the middle class, who are made to suffer. People are going to understand more and more the dangers of crony capitalism, and that is why so many of us are saying, “whatever it takes to retire this permanent political class that has embraced it. We’re going to do to it!”

As usual, Governor Palin was correct in predicting pervasive crony capitalism in Washington DC. On Friday, the Obama administration doled out $5 billion more dollars in energy loan guarantees. One of those loans went to the company, Exelon (emphasis added):

The deals announced Friday include a $1.5 billion loan guarantee to Florida-based NextEra Energy and other investors that bought a planned 550-megawatt solar farm on federal land in Southern California from First Solar, as well as $646 million to Illinois-based Exelon Corp. for a 230-megawatt solar plant near Los Angeles. Next Era Energy Resources and GE Energy Financial Services bought the Desert Sunlight project from First Solar, while Exelon bought the Antelope Valley project. First Solar will continue to build and operate both projects.

Interesting to note is that Exelon was President Obama’s fourth largest donor in 2008, and this was not the only time he was involved in crony capitalism tainted political maneuvers with this company. He did so while he was in the Senate as well:

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Obama accepted more than$225,000 in contributions from Exelon executives while watering down an antinuclear bill he had introduced in the Senate. Exelon is the nation’s largest provider of nuclear power.

Next Era Energy, who partnered with GE, received $1.5 billion dollars in loan guarantees, but that’s not the only time Next Era Energy and GE have teamed up. President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is headed by GE CEO, Jeff Imelt, while Next Era CEO, Lew Hay III, also served on this council. This becomes crony capitalism defined, as President Obama stated when he established this council, “[i]t’s critical for us to have input from folks who are actually hiring, putting people to work, making payroll, making the products and services that make our economy so powerful”. Isn’t it funny that these companies’ input potentially played a role in steering loan guarantees to their companies? Governor Palin has recently highlighted the crony capitalism of GE, including the loans (emphasis mine):

This icon of American industry is a company full of good employees who make some good products (and is the parent company of a huge media outlet), but GE is also a large American corporation that pays virtually no corporate income taxes despite earning worldwide profits of $14.2 billion last year, $5.1 billion of it in the United States. In fact, they claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, meaning they received more of our hard earned tax dollars than they contributed. How is that possible? It’s because not only do they shelter their money from taxes, but they also get many tax credits, loans, government grants, and other benefits from the federal government that our smaller businesses couldn’t even imagine being able to profit from.

It should also be noted that GE-affiliated donors were among his larger contributors in 2008 to the tune of more than half a million dollars. It’s amazing what you can discover when you shine a little sunlight on solar energy companies!

Governor Palin’s career has been marked by fighting cronyism and corruption. As a member of the city council, she called out a fellow councilmember for trying to modify Wasilla’s garbage regulations in order to steer business to his garbage collection company. She blew the whistle on the head of the Alaska GOP, Randy Ruedrich, who was working with her as a commissioner with the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, when he was doing party business on state time. This resulted in the largest ethics fine in state history. As Governor, she continued this consistent fight against crony capitalism and corruption. Her three major legislative victories focused on this fight. She signed into all major ethics reform that disallowed trading votes for campaign funds. Her major energy reforms were passed in a transparent manner that did not allow oil companies to write the legislation to disproportionately benefit them. This includes restructuring Alaska’s oil tax system after the previous administration had developed a plan that was good for Governor Murkowski’s cronies, but not for the people of Alaska. Her natural gas pipeline project allowed companies to submit proposals for public consumption before state government officials made decisions, preventing backroom dealing. In her interview with Judge Napolitano, she noted that Americans want to do “whatever it takes to retire the permanent political class that has embraced [crony capitalism]”. An easy way to do this is to elect the woman who already done this every step of the way.

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