On page 5 of my Wall Street Journal this morning, and page 7 of my Washington Post, a full-page ad for Wells Fargo banners
Wells Fargo and NextEra Energy join together to fuel low-carbon economy throughout the U.S.
Meanwhile, the front page of my Journal announces
Green-Power King Thrives on Government Subsidies
The article explains that NextEra Energy
has grown into a green Goliath, almost entirely under the radar, not through taking on heavy debt to expand or by touting its greenness, but by relentlessly capitalizing on government support for renewable energy, in particular the tax subsidies that help finance wind and solar projects around the country. It then sells the output to utilities, many of which must procure power from green sources to meet state mandates.
While environmentalists applaud NextEra’s commitment to building wind and solar farms outside Florida, they have criticized what they see as its attempts to slow the deployment of rooftop solar inside Florida where it would directly compete with its utility business.
As Wells Fargo tries to rescue its reputation after its account scandals, maybe it should forgo bragging about helping a company get heavy subsidies in order to sell its products to compelled buyers. Maybe as part of its apology and restitution, it should swear off participating in taxpayer-subsidized projects, as BB&T in 2006 vowed not to lend to projects that relied on eminent domain.
Would NextEra even be profitable without all these subsidies and mandates? At least it’s not Solyndra, the Obama-connected solar power company that left the taxpayers holding the bag for $500 million when it collapsed. (“Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level, The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials.”)
Maybe we should drop all these subsidies, restrictions, mandates, and trade barriers and let the free market deliver the right mix of energy at the lowest cost.