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California needs a reasonable balance of cheap, safe oil pipelines and flexible oil trainsMay 12, 2014
Some politicians in California, and people like me who live near railroad tracks, are waking up to the fact that four times as much oil was shipped to California by train over the last year than the previous year. Most of it was heading to refineries here in Southern California. As the oil trains have increased, so have complaints and environmental concerns about them. Rather than responding to calls to restrict these trains and further raise our gasoline prices, however, state officials need to address the need for oil pipelines connecting California with the Midwest.
Ownership of TVA should be transferred to the states it servesApril 17, 2014
Kudos to the Obama Administration and its proposed fiscal year 2015 budget for continuing “to believe that reducing or eliminating the federal government’s role in programs such as TVA [the Tennessee Valley Authority], which have achieved their original objectives, can help mitigate risk to taxpayers.” The TVA remains a government-sponsored enterprise, despite being the largest power generator in the United States—hardly a core government function given the robust private marketplace in electricity.
It's time for policy makers to revisit TVA’s existence as a federal agencyJanuary 9, 2014
TVA is a federally owned power company yet it pays its executives at the private sector level. If retaining an executive to head a federal agency requires this high level of compensation (as TVA asserts), it is time for policy makers to revisit TVA’s existence as a federal agency and make the entire entity, not just its pay scales, comparable to private firms to which its executives’ compensation packages are compared.
The Department of Energy’s Stimulus Loans Went to “Junk” Grade Investments and Firms That Spent the Most Lobbying
Study details the role political connections and lobbying played in securing loansDecember 3, 2013
A new Reason Foundation study finds 22 out of 26 projects were rated as “junk” grade investments before they were awarded taxpayer-backed loans as part of the Department of Energy’s Section 1705 loan program, which was part of the 2009 stimulus bill that focused on renewable energy, electric power transmission, and biofuels projects.
The report also highlights taxpayer-backed loans given to companies with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Vice President Al Gore, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and a company founded by former Maine Gov. Angus Reid, who is now a U.S. Senator. According to the Reason Foundation study, the companies that spent the most on lobbying received the biggest Section 1705 loans.
“These projects were rated by credit rating agencies as junk investments with a high likelihood of failure, but the Department of Energy didn’t seem to care because it was giving loans to the firms that were well connected or were spending the most on lobbying,” said Julian Morris, vice president of Reason Foundation and co-author of the report.
The Reason Foundation report also questions why 83 percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Section 1705 loans went to solar energy projects, with wind receiving 11 percent of the funds.
Why the Department of Energy should stop guaranteeing loans for green energy projectsDecember 3, 2013
Why did the Department of Energy (DOE) systematically make loan guarantees to companies that are financially unsound? This study shows that many recipients had close ties to those in charge of approving the loan guarantees. Moroever, the DOE appears to have allocated funds broadly in proportion to applicants’ lobbying expenditures. In other words, it is likely that loan guarantees were allocated not on the merits of the projects but, rather, according to the degree to which the applicants were able to use political connections. Worse still, by encouraging private investment in unduly risky projects, the DOE's diverted money away from more sustainable projects that might actually result in environmental improvements.
Divestiture would lower deficit, benefit taxpayersOctober 8, 2013
In 1987, the federal government divested itself of Conrail, a freight railroad based largely in the Northeast and Midwest. Just as that divestiture was nearing completion, President Reagan is reported to have asked: "Okay, when do we sell the TVA?" While Reagan wasn’t able to achieve the sale during his presidency, fortunately the current administration is revisiting the issue today. Buried in the Obama administration’s FY 2014 budget is a commitment to undertake a “strategic review of options for addressing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) financial situation, including the possible divestiture of TVA, in part or as a whole.”
View Resources by Type
- Lobbying, Cronyism and Section 1705 Loan Guarantees
Why the Department of Energy should stop guaranteeing loans for green energy projects
Julian Morris and Victor Nava
December 3, 2013
- The Limits of Wind Power
Very high wind penetrations are not achievable in practice due to the increased need for power storage, the decrease in grid reliability, and the increased operating costs
Julian Morris and William J. Korchinski
October 4, 2012
- Analysis of California's Propositions 7 and 10: Renewable Energy Mandates and Handouts
Policy Brief 75
October 1, 2008
- Fueling America
How Hydrogen Cars Affect the Environment
William J. Korchinski
November 1, 2004
- A Federal Ethanol Mandate
Is it Worth it?
Matthew McCormick, Scott Freifeld and Lynne Kiesling
November 1, 2003
- Movin' Juice
Making Electricity Transmission More Competitive
Lynne Kiesling and Adrian Moore
September 1, 2003
- Standard Market Design in Wholesale Electricity Markets
Can FERC's Proposed Structure Adapt to the Unknown?
Lynne Kiesling and Brian Mannix
November 1, 2002
- Electric Cooperatives and a Changing Power Industry
How Outdated Statutes Short-circuit Competitive Markets
Terri Kandalepas and Lynne Kiesling
August 1, 2002
- Getting Electricity Deregulation Right
How Other States and Nations Have Avoided California's Mistakes
February 1, 2001
- Powering Up California
Policy Alternatives for the California Energy Crisis
Adrian Moore and Lynne Kiesling
February 1, 2001
- Integrating Municipal Utilities into a Competitive Electricity Market
Adrian Moore and Jeff Woerner
May 1, 2000
- Muni Power Grabs
Municipal Utilities, Tax-exempt Debt, and the Competitive Market
Adrian Moore and Jeff Woerner
November 1, 1999
- Federal Power
The Case for Privatizing Electricity
March 1, 1996
- The Case Against Electric Vehicle Mandates in California
Peter Gordon and Harry W. Richardson
May 1, 1995
- Toward Accountability and Efficiency
Reform of the Bonneville Power Administration
Kenneth W. Costello and David Haarmeyer
April 1, 1992
- Toward Resolving The Access Issue
User Ownership Of Electric Transmission Grids
August 1, 1991
- Public vs. Private
Alternative Ownership Scenarios for Electric Utilities
Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
June 1, 1990
- Privatization of the Tennessee Valley Authority
October 1, 1988
- Oil Trains Run Because Pipelines Don't (5/12)
- Obama on TVA: Time to Transfer to Help Mitigate Risk to Taxpayer (4/17)
- The Highest Paid Federal Employee Is Not the President (1/9)
- The Department of Energy’s Stimulus Loans Went to “Junk” Grade Investments and Firms That Spent the Most Lobbying (12/3)
- Lobbying, Cronyism and Section 1705 Loan Guarantees (12/3)
- Ronald Bailey
- Shikha Dalmia
- Adrian Moore
Vice President, Policy
- Julian Morris
Vice President, Research
Media ContactChris Mitchell
Director of Communications
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