Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama both plan to continue allocating federal funds to private sector energy companies, should they take office. Under an Obama administration the federal government’s continued fiscal involvement in the private energy enterprise will be quite different than under a Romney administration.
Under a second Obama administration we can expect to see continued federal aid to clean energy companies and cuts to oil subsidies. Mitt Romney, in contrast, plans to continue subsidizing oil companies and would discontinue federal aid for renewable energy.
On the campaign trail, Romney has labeled several recipients of Department of Energy loans as “losers,” to discredit Obama’s clean energy plan. During the October 3 presidential debate Romney stated:
“But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into—into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this—this is not—this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.”
Among the companies Romney listed in his remark, there are both losers and winners; making his comment not entirely devoid of fact. Solyndra, for example, is a failed solar power panel producer that received federal funding. Since the company declared bankruptcy in February of this year, Obama’s opponents have not let him forget the failure of this investment.
The Silicon Valley based company, Tesla Motors, is an entirely different story. Tesla is an all-electric car maker revolutionizing the auto industry. CEO, Elon Musk, who is also the entrepreneur behind SpaceX and PayPal, is currently guiding developments of the world’s first premium electric sedan, the Model S.
Far from being a loser-company, Tesla Motors has had notable fiscal success. Musk explained that the Department of Energy requested that Tesla repay loans early if it had excess cash. He went on to say:
“The answer is unequivocally yes and I am happy to announce that we will be initiating an advance payment today to prefund the principal payment that is due in March 2013. The purpose of the DOE Advanced Technology Manufacturing Program was to serve as a catalyst for accelerating sustainable transport technology, which is in the best interests of all Americans and ultimately people throughout the world. In the case of Tesla, the result has been a resurgence in American manufacturing ability and the creation of over 3,500 high quality jobs.”
Following the October 22 presidential debate, Tesla posted Is Romney Anti-Tesla? on its website's forum page, which asked consumers:
"In tonight's debate, Romney said the government investing in Tesla, amongst a few other companies, is not a good way to create American jobs. Is he anti-Tesla? And should we worry about losing the EV (electric vehicle) tax credit for 2013 and beyond if he is elected?"
Tesla presents its consumers with an important question that is also highly relevant to American voters. Romney's plans to discontinue funding for renewable energy companies, like Tesla, will allow the continued dominance of fossil fuel companies to the detriment of innovative clean energy resources.