The federal government has done such a bang-up job of picking winners in the “clean energy” field here at home (see, e.g., Solyndra) that it is now planning to spend $20 million of taxpayers’ money on similar projects in Africa — with “hundreds of millions of dollars” to follow, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, speaking at the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, announced the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, whose purpose, she said, is to “help clean energy projects in Africa get started.” The initiative involves three federal agencies: the State Department, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. “We plan to use an initial $20 million grant fund to leverage much larger investment flows from OPIC,” Clinton explained. “That will open the door then for hundreds of millions of dollars of OPIC financing, plus hundreds of millions of more dollars from the private sector for projects that otherwise would never get off the drawing board.”
“Clean energy,” she averred, “will bring new jobs, create new livelihoods, support education, new businesses, healthier and more productive lives, as well as reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change.”
But if clean energy is such a wonderful thing, why would these projects “otherwise … never get off the drawing board”? It’s not a matter of resources or technology, Clinton maintained, but of “obstacles and risks” that frighten off investors. “So if we can remove some of the risk and cover some of the costs of preparing a project,” she said, “we believe we can spur significant new private investments in clean energy.”
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Photo of Secretary of State Clinton at Rio+20: AP Images