Smart Grid Cash flows right back to an old Chicago Friend

On April 8 the Department of Energy released, via email newsletter, The EERE’s list of selected workforce groups assigned to receive Stimulus Funds in respect to advancing “Smart Grid” technology.

The document was immediately taken off line and for good reason. (Original link here/now dead) Luckily, I immediately saved the document upon receiving it. Use the link to view (outside link- wordpress wont allow the javascript embedding) The third entry shows Composite Technology Corporation receiving a chunk of stimulus to train operators and managers for a new ACCC plant (More on that to follow). Why is this press release and it’s documents suddenly not available for public view?

It seems that in the publication $1.2 million was going to a former Blagojevich appointee, John P. Mitola, who is on the Board of Directors of Composite Technology Corporation. (Via Forbes.Com) From 2003 to 2009 Mr. Mitola served as Chairman of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, one of the largest agencies in Illinois and one of the largest transportation agencies in North America with a $600 million annual operating budget and a $6.3  billion capitalprogram

Mr. Mitola also served as a Director of Chicago Scholars (previously Scholarship Chicago) with current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Mayor Richard M. Daley

However, what Mr. Mitola’s new plant is set up to manufacture is already available in the market place and in use in the USA and two other continents

John P. Mitola

What are they Manufacturing?

Composite Technology Corporation is using Stimulus Cash to train and staff a new manufacturing plant creating Aluminum Composite Conductor Cores (ACCC) Basically, this is an electrical transmission wire that is insulated with aluminum conduits that allow for low sag (less tower construction/farther apart) and very low failure rate due to over heating. This design, in means of electrical transmission, is far superior to most old transmission lines still in use today.

However, Composite Technology Corporation is not the only manufacturer of this product. 3M has been manufacturing and implementing this technology in the USA, Canada, Brazil, China and India. Last year they received approval under the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) program to use these lines to upgrade areas that fall under the programs financing. What is interesting about the 3M agreement and RUS, is that the electricity suppliers borrow the funds to upgrade and then later need to be paid back.

So What’s So Special about Composite Technology Corporation?

Nothing. Instead of hustling up private investors CTC has decided to use political pull to fund a pet project. Plus, its much easier to operate with cash from the Department of Extra Money than it is to partner with investors whom will have a lot to say about your company’s daily operations.

Investors and Incentive vs. Free Money

The great contrast here is exhibited in the investment philosophy in both cases. As with 3M, they have been granted the right to have their product(s) used and available to utilities under a federal financing plan. They (the providers) must decide if it is in their customers best interest to pursue this. If it turns out to be an unfavorable idea amongst the customers and they proceed, they must answer to their customers and still pay the federal financing back. With Composite Technology Corporation the bill to hire and train their staff to produce the same product is absorbed by the public at large. Most of which will never know that their money was spent for this nor have a say in the matter. Furthermore, “Stimulus” jobs are supposed to be Union jobs under the Presidents orders. Has there ever been a Union made good that has been competitive in price to a similar product created under Non-Unionized labor? So not only are the costs hidden to the average person but they will likely being paying a higher cost to not only fund the staffing of the factory but also a higher unit cost in the end.