Wind at their backs: Powerful Democrats help Chinese energy firm chase stimulus money

Sen. Reid and Obama donors back company seeking $450 million in U.S. money

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

Three weeks before Election Day, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, arrives for the dedication of a wind farm in Henderson, Nev., on Oct. 12, 2010. With him are, second from left, Kai Huang, deputy mayor of Shenyang, China; Jinxiang Lu, second from right, chairman and CEO of A-Power Energy Generation Systems, a Chinese company, and Tom Conway, right, international vice president of the United Steelworkers union. Reid’s support, and the plan to create jobs in Nevada, helped blunt congressional criticism that stimulus money was going to the Chinese company, which also plans a large wind farm in West Texas. The company is hoping to receive money through the U.S. Energy Department.

Russ Choma
Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University

WASHINGTON — Top Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists with links to the White House are behind a proposed wind farm in Texas that stands to get $450 million in stimulus money, even though a Chinese company would operate the farm and its turbines would be built in China.

The farm’s backers also have close ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who, at the height of his hard-fought re-election bid this fall, helped blunt congressional criticism over stimulus dollars possibly going to create jobs in China by endorsing a proposal by the Chinese company to build a factory in his home state. Although his campaign received thousands of dollars in donations from the wind farm’s backers and Reid stood on stage with them at a campaign event they hosted, his office declined to answer any questions about the wind farm’s organizers or their plans for Nevada.

…[a wind farm on 36,000 acres in West Texas] …is being planned by an unusual joint partnership between the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a Dallas investment firm with strong ties to Washington and the Democratic Party, and A-Power Energy Generation Systems, an upstart Chinese supplier of wind turbines. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate the Chinese are bringing financing and the turbines.

What the Americans are supplying is the local know-how and political clout in Washington, where decisions on how to distribute billions in loan guarantees, stimulus grants and financial incentives are made…

Obama White House won’t answer questions
Liz Oxhorn, a White House spokesperson for the Recovery Act, declined to answer questions about what was discussed during that meeting or any other — including whether Rouse and other White House officials know about the Spinning Star project or were asked to intervene on its behalf…

Read more about your tax dollars at work and how wealthy Democratic donors will benefit from this deal at

Also at MSNBC: Story: Reid’s ‘Net betting bill would benefit his casino backers and Story: Hot air? White House takes credit for Bush-era wind farm jobs


Update: Related–Sen. Lindsey Graham plots return to energy talks

State of play: Republican eyes energy talks with Obama administration, Dems

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) walked away from climate change and energy talks with Democrats months ago, but he’s plotting a return to the thick of Senate energy debates.

Graham said Thursday that he’s reviving his proposal to create a “clean energy” standard for utilities in the next Congress.

The idea would require power companies to supply escalating amounts of energy from various low-carbon sources. Power generated from new nuclear plants would be eligible.

Graham told reporters that he wants to link the idea with proposals that would prevent EPA from “overly” regulating several air pollutants — including carbon…

Comments are closed.