A U.S. taxpayer-funded overseas “clean energy” initiative will top the billion-dollar mark if U.S. Agency for International Development plans are moved forward.
Most of the funds – some of which have not yet received congressional authorization – are devoted to energy infrastructure and exploration projects in USAID-designated “critical priority countries” such as Pakistan, Haiti and Afghanistan.
Wielding significant authority over such projects is Eric Postel, a former Citicorp vice president and founder of the Pangaea Partners investment firm.
Postel assumed the position when the Senate on March 3 approved his appointment as assistant administrator of USAID’s Bureau of Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade.
Federal Elections Commission records show that Postel has a long track record of supporting liberal icons from his home state of Wisconsin, such as three-term Democrat Russ Feingold, who last year lost his Senate seat to Republican newcomer Ron Johnson.
Though most of the $15,000 in donations that Postel made over the past decade either went to Feingold or to the Democratic National Committee, some of the funds made their way to the coffers of Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who last year made National Journal’s top-10 list of The Most Liberal Members of the House of Representatives.
USAID hopes to leverage Postel’s leadership to further the development of global energy campaigns, including Afghanistan’s Shiberghan gas field and power plant project.
Alexandria Panehal, a Harvard University-educated deputy assistant administrator who reports to Postel, sent an “action memorandum” to her boss dated March 30 urging him to elevate to $738 million the potential ceiling for one solicitation, #SOL-OAA-10-000022.
According to the document, which was located via routine database research, the $88 million boost to what is known as the Energy II initiative also will be used to support Pakistani “power generation, transmission, and distribution performance improvement activities.”
The Electricity de Haiti Utility also would benefit from this increase, as would dozens of foreign nations “who have indicated an interest” in receiving USAID funds under “Low Emission Development Strategies” and “Other Clean Energy” endeavors.
U.S. foreign assistance objectives will “be impaired if a suitable rapid response contracting mechanism is not available for energy sector assistance,” Panehal claims in the memo – while also acknowledging, “To date, 53 task orders totaling $590.4 million have been awarded.”
Consequently, USAID recently approved the new contract, #EPP-I-00-03-00008, according to a Justification for Other Than Full and Open Competition document located in the federal database.
An additional $350 million will be slated for other “clean energy” projects targeting what are known as “Non-Critical Priority Countries,” according to a separate but related solicitation, # SOL-OAA-11-000034.
The primary goals of this initiative are to rein in so-called “global climate change” and to improve the capacity of key energy sector stakeholders, which would include financial institutions as well as energy utilities, the document says.
“USAID’s clean energy programs and activities reduce global warming,” the document claims, “by promoting the sustainable use of renewable energy technologies [and] energy efficient end-use technologies.”
These endeavors, according to the document, help nations receiving aid to “move to a low-emission society.”
Contractors selected for the program are required to help “strengthen participation in the goals” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it also says.
Despite the ambitious plan, USAID admits that accomplishing the program’s goals will be challenging. The U.S. government must make the attempt, however, because “expanding access to affordable, reliable, efficient, and clean energy services empowers people to take a major step out of poverty into a better future.”
Analyses of linkages between energy independence and economic security reveal, it says, a disturbing fact: “Dependence on imported fuels leaves many countries and communities vulnerable to price volatility and disruptions in supply, resulting in dangerous social, economic, and political consequences.”