Federal Energy Bill Includes Corporate Welfare for Elon Musk Companies

Elon Musk's companies SolarCity and Tesla Motors get more corporate welfare under new energy bill pending in Congress
Elon Musk’s companies SolarCity and Tesla Motors get more corporate welfare under new energy bill pending in Congress

The U.S. Senate has just passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, and to no surprise it is filled with more failed government green energy programs and a massive amount of subsidies and corporate welfare for a wide array of energy programs. Elon Musk, the creator of two heavily-subsidized and economically failing companies – solar panel makers SolarCity and Tesla Motors, which makes very high priced luxury electric cars – is about to get a huge Christmas-in-the-summer gift of corporate welfare for both of those companies. Musk has received at least $4.9 billion in taxpayer-funded largess for his companies, and he’s set to get more if this energy bill is passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.

The bill includes a provision to expand the “Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program” that is basically corporate welfare for electric-power vehicles, for the purpose of “reequipping, expanding, or establishing of a manufacturing facility” for them. Several companies that make electric cars have received money from this, including the now bankrupt Fisker Automotive, a company that also made the kind of luxury electric cars that Musk’s Tesla Motors makes. Fisker got a $529 million loan from the program. Since Tesla is expanding their manufacturing of electric cars, they will be getting more money from this program.

Musk’s SolarCity is also in line to get more taxpayer-funded corporate welfare from the energy bill. Musk’s Tesla Motors has a division developing large energy storage technologies while SolarCity is promoting solar energy. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represent companies like SolarCity that will benefit from the passage of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, applauds the Senate for passing it.

The bill would promote renewable energy by requiring operators of electricity lines, transformers, and other elements of the electrical grid to upgrade the system, with a focus on large-scale storage systems for electricity to better accommodate the expanding production of wind and solar power,” The New York Times reports about the energy bill.

It is likely that both the energy storage work of Tesla and the solar power products marketed by SolarCity will be more heavily subsidized by these provisions of the energy bill. Loaded full with corporate welfare and benefits, at taxpayer expense, for a variety of renewable and green energy programs and projects, the bill will cost an estimated $32 billion between 2016-2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

This expensive energy bill has opposition from both sides of the political spectrum, and it was opposed in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by two members from each party, Republicans Jeff Flake from Arizona and Mike Lee from Utah, as well as Democrat Debbie Stabenow from Michigan and Independent self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders from Vermont.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, stated on the bill, The provisions are simply a continuation of government meddling in the energy economy and would waste taxpayer resources, override consumer preference, direct money toward politically preferred technologies, and appease special interests.”

The Energy Policy Modernization Act is also opposed on the more “left” or “progressive side of the political spectrum, including many environmental groups.

The Sierra Club wrote about their opposition, stating, “Several provisions in this bill … we believe could cause detrimental effects to public health and our environment. For example, there is no need to exempt hydropower facilities from regulations that have worked for a century. Some provisions could also have unintended severe consequences for EPA public health protections. We are also troubled by the lack of clean energy investments made by a bill that claims to modernize our energy policy.”

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV calls it’s a “good bill.” It is believed by many, that if the bill passes in something close to it’s current form, it will be signed by President Obama. The president has been a strong supporter of a variety of big government programs to fund expensive renewable energy programs and corporate welfare for companies like Tesla Motors and SolarCity. Perhaps the failed Solyndra solar power producer is the most well known taxpayer-funded disaster associated with the president.

Congress seems entirely unable to pass major bills without them becoming gigantic Christmas trees lit up with all kinds of pork and corporate welfare giveaways to their cronies, including the likes of Corporate Welfare King Elon Musk, who has amassed a personal fortune of more than $13 billion almost entirely from government largess. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 is no different. It needs to either be seriously overhauled and revamped or it should be rejected by the Congress, given it has just passed the Senate.