- - Thursday, May 28, 2015

President Obama obviously doesn’t learn from his mistakes. And taxpayers are paying the price.

After frittering away $535 million on the Solyndra solar energy boondoggle, which promised to revolutionize solar power, but ultimately did nothing more than devour tax dollars and leave 1,100 Americans without a job, the president has continued has continued to burn through an average of $39 billion annually on various subsidies to support solar energy here in the United States. Despite the billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded handouts the president gave to the solar industry, solar power remains responsible for just 0.6 percent of the electricity used in America.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The Obama administration’s indefensible use of taxpayers’ money to bankroll solar boondoggles is now spreading to other nations. As a result, Americans’ tax dollars are quietly going to fund other countries’ solar schemes.

Earlier this year, the president announced $4 billion in handouts to expand India’s solar energy infrastructure. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency promised India $2 billion in loans for solar energy storage projects, and the taxpayer-backed Export-Import Bank pledged $1 billion to underwrite the country’s solar power ventures. Another government agency, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, loaned India an additional $1 billion for various solar initiatives.

Oddly, the massive handout came just days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected a $1 billion payoff from the United States in exchange for accepting a climate deal to dramatically limit greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama promptly made a fool of himself – and of the American people – by giving Indian officials four-times more money for thumbing their noses at the economically stifling emissions standards than they would’ve gotten for agreeing to the U.S. global warming treaty.

As hilarious as Mr. Obama’s absurd diplomatic tactics must seem to India’s policymakers, the real laugh will come when the Indian government leaders realize that if they don’t pay back the money U.S. policymakers lent to them for solar energy projects, American taxpayers will have to pick up the tab.

Unfortunately for Americans, government-sponsored solar subsidies to foreign nations have become business as usual for the Obama Administration.

Over the next 5 years, more than $7 billion in U.S. handouts will be routed through a dozen federal agencies for the Power Africa Initiative, a scheme which seeks to bring green energy to Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia and Niger.

In recent years, federal taxpayers have shelled out $1 million to finance Bosnia and Herzegovina’s fledgling solar industry, spent another $1 million to slap solar panels on huts in Rwanda and put up a $100,000 contribution towards a solar project in the mountains of Peru.

Perhaps the biggest waste of Americans’ money among the litany of international solar boondoggles came as part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. A 2013 inspector general’s report revealed that $700,000 worth of solar panels given to power businesses in Kandahar Province had been stolen, were resold or were never used.

The Afghan solar panel debacle couldn’t have come as much of a surprise to USAID brass. After all, both U.S. and Afghan officials loudly opposed to the plan to distribute 300 sets of solar panels well before the project commenced, according to the report. Local businesses lacked equipment to make the panels work properly and, “as soon as the project was complete, the solar panels would be stolen and put on top of individual homes,” said Army Reserve Capt. Steve Baunach.

“The thinking was that you bring light at night, the market could stay open, it would boost the economy and win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people,” Baunach told NBC News. “But that just did not happen.

“If anything, it was a glowing example of American incompetence.”

Despite the abject failure of the Kandahar solar panel fiasco, USAID is currently attempting to drum up support – and more tax dollars – to launch new solar projects in Afghanistan. The infuriating reality is that, if the president has anything to say about it, USAID will probably end up snagging even more money to waste on additional solar schemes that will only end badly.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from President Obama it’s that he is more than happy to waste taxpayers’ hard-earned money on solar boondoggles, even when it’s obvious they’ll never work.

Whether it’s here in the United States or an ocean away, it’s clear that when the Obama administration uses tax dollars to fund solar energy projects, taxpayers get burned.

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