Demand for green energy project is weak

Remember Solyndra, the “green” solar panel company that spent a half-a-billion of your federal tax dollars before filing for bankruptcy last year?

Solyndra’s failure has not slowed the Obama green energy train. Quite the contrary: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to dish out funds for seemingly ill-conceived green energy projects. One came online in San Antonio only two weeks ago.

Through a grant from DOE, San Antonio’s municipally-owned electric utility, CPS Energy, has installed 120 electric vehicle charging stations around the city.

You may have seen one at the movies, literally. They have been placed at Santikos Theaters and other spots where people are likely to spend two hours or more.

The units look like car wash vacuum cleaners, but of course they come with a heftier price tag. Taxpayers must pony up $5,000 for each unit. Total bill for the San Antonio roll-out? $600,000.

But the surprise is not the cost, as significant as it might be to you or me. The real shock is the number of electric vehicles on San Antonio roads capable of using the stations. 10,000? 500? 150? Nope; try 80, and that’s a CPS Energy estimate. The actual number may be lower!

That’s nearly two public charging stations for every one private electric vehicle. What a great time to be a Nissan Leaf!

And what a great description of Mr. Obama’s version of the law of supply and demand. If ideology demands it, we supply it, regardless of actual demand.

Other factors point to weak demand for the charging stations.

A recent San Antonio Express-News article about the project includes this line: “The reality is that many electric car owners shouldn’t need the stations because their vehicles will have enough range to cover their daily commutes.”

And then, there is this subversion, also from the Express-News report, “The economics of buying an electric car and driving it for 15 years does [sic] not pencil out for most drivers when compared with the lifetime expenses of owning a fuel-efficient, gas-powered compact car such as a Honda Civic, according to the (US) Energy Department.”

Let’s say I do charge my $40,000 electric car for two hours while I’m watching The Muppets movie at the theater. How far will that charge get me? 15-20 miles. In other words, barely home.

I understand the Obama administration’s argument for green energy. In some instances, only centralized governments are capable of funding projects that attempt to catalyze extraordinary changes. However, those projects need to have a clear national security or economic benefit.

Promoting relatively small and weak electric cars doesn’t fit the category, especially when profound North American oil reserves have yet to be tapped.

Solyndra and superfluous charging stations are what you get when Kermit the Frog and other liberal puppets demonize Tex Richman (the antagonist in The Muppets movie) and the oil and gas industry. It matters not that no other energy source can move so much so far so quickly for so relatively little.

It’s not easy being green. And, as Obama’s green energy experiments keep showing us, it’s not often productive, profitable or prudent either.


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at

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