Letter to the editor: Hydrogen energy push mirrors failed Obama-Biden investments


I have been reading and listening to the community, state and federal discussions regarding the development of hydrogen energy to reduce carbon emissions and move us to a green energy economy. President Biden and Gov. Inslee look to spend $1 billion, yes, $1 billion in grants to public and private entities in the Northwest, for hydrogen development.  Many businesses are lining up at the public funding trough for this “free” taxpayer money.

Sound familiar? Remember the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus bill of 2009? Remember the massive green energy projects funded by the Obama-Biden administration? At OpenTheBooks.com and from an article in Forbes Magazine by Adam Andrzejewski, “Remembering Solyndra: How Many $570M Green Energy Failures Are Hidden Inside Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal?” you can get an idea of how much taxpayers lost from these green initiatives. 

Here is the short list:

• Solyndra — $570 million taxpayer dollars wasted.

• A123 Systems, which manufactured defective batteries — $132 million wasted.

ABB, Inc. — $12.6 million wasted. 

• Abound Solar — $401 million wasted. 

• Calisolar — $280 million wasted. 

• Fisker Automotive — $193 million wasted.

Many of these companies misled the government and were not properly vetted. Somebody pocketed a lot of money, but it wasn’t the taxpayer.

Remember Sen. Patty Murray’s visit to the company First Mode in Centralia? Local leaders and Sen. Murray touted First Mode’s plans to retrofit heavy duty mining trucks to hydrogen fuel cell power. Now, First Mode is cutting 20% of its U.S. workforce. Most of those jobs are in Washington state. First Mode CEO Julian Soles stated that the company is shifting its efforts to a lower cost diesel-battery system, more like a Toyota Prius Hybrid than a hydrogen fueled Toyota Mirai. Why? Green hydrogen today is just too expensive to produce. In a recent article by Robin Gaster on the website utilitydive.com, “Let’s Be Realistic About Green Hydrogen,” Gaster outlines the challenges green hydrogen must meet and the massive lift under new Treasury guidelines for new green hydrogen plants.

If hydrogen is the answer to our future transportation needs, private industry would already be doing it without government subsidies. To foster trust with the taxpayer, the Economic Alliance of Lewis County and the Interrelated Energy Innovation Coalition should be transparent with the facts. Where is the green energy going to come from to supply the plant? That is just one question that needs to be completely answered. If green hydrogen makes economic sense, then prove it, and if this plant becomes reality and the funds are spent, everything should be subject to an audit. Otherwise, as Gaster, notes in his article, the only green in the green energy subsidies bill will be taxpayer money down the drain.


Michele McGeoghegan