Caldwell: Spend $175,000 of Your Money to Save the County $15,000?

Government loves to save money, no matter how much it costs to save. Sometimes saved money costs jobs. Other times, the money saved stretches common sense. In this case, Santa Barbara County is going to save $15,000 at the cost of $175,000 (not a typo). My good friend radio talk show host Andy Caldwell has dug up the information. While this is about a single County, my guess is that every county has a program or project just like this. The politicians promote the $15,000 saved, without noting the cost of $175,000. Plus the other costs they do not tell us about!

There are several significant questions that need to be asked. For instance, we should know how much the equipment retails for and if the project was paid for by a grant, why does the company retain ownership? Why doesn’t the grantors keep ownership? If the taxpayers are paying for this why are we giving away the rights to it?

Sounds like this green company is milking the taxpayers and for how much?

We should be told how much the energy “savings” cost per kilowatts compared with other energy sources? We know the cost of solar is several times the cost of oil or gas. Add the extra energy costs to the “grant” as the total cost to the taxpayers. Lots of questions and very few answers. The first one I would ask is a simple one—how much is this really costing us and what are we not doing to pay for this money losing boondoggle.

The grant is being given by the California Energy Commission. This means all the taxpayers of California are being fleeced by the government of Santa Barbara County.

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

Spend $175,000 of Your Money to Save the County $15,000?

Andy Caldwell, Santa Barbara News Press, 5/21/14

If you have ever wanted to become an expert on crony capitalism have a seat.  Our lesson today has to do with our nation’s new green economy.  In this economic system, anything that seems good for the environment is deemed to be worth the cost especially when we can hide the costs from the average consumer.

To begin our lesson, let me describe a recently approved county project involving the execution of a contract with Green Charge Networks (GCN) to install a 30KW energy storage system and Level 3 Fast Charging Electric Vehicle Charging Station at the Santa Barbara County Administration Building.

According to the staff report, data analysis suggests energy costs will be reduced via the installation of this energy storage system.  Under the terms of the agreement, GCN will provide, install, and retain ownership of the entire system and be responsible for all operations and maintenance, at no cost to Santa Barbara County.  The county’s responsibility is to provide GCN with access to the sight to install and maintain the energy storage system and EV charging station.  When the agreement’s five-year term expires, the county will have the option of either renewing the agreement, purchasing the equipment at its depreciated value, or requiring GCN to remove the equipment at no cost to the county.

The system is expected to reduce the Santa Barbara County Administration Building’s energy costs through a reduction in utility demand charges.  The project is entirely funded by a grant GCN will receive from the California Energy Commission.  The combined value of the equipment and installation is approximately $175,000.  The system is expected to generate $6,600 in savings per year with potential increases in savings as energy prices continue to escalate.  The county will share half of the savings generated by the system.  As for the fast charging EV station, the fees will be set and collected by CGN, with the county being reimbursed for the electricity utilized for vehicle charging.

The most important part of this narrative?  The fact that the entire project is funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission.  What that means is that California rate payers are ultimately paying for this project- that means you!  In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch or a free watt!  Otherwise, how do you account for the incentive to make a $175,000 investment with a return of only $33,000 that must be split?  The equipment would have to last nearly 30 years in order to break even!  I can guarantee you the technology will be outdated by then!

The rest of the story?  The reason our electricity costs are rising is due to the fact that we are not utilizing traditional energy sources that would otherwise keep our costs down.  In fact, the opposite is true.  California, by virtue of AB32 is eliminating our energy options.  Moreover, we are not only financing projects like this via 100% subsidy, but in effect, projects like these are actually being mandated at a loss to consumers!

Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and the host of the Andy Caldwell Show weekdays from 3-5 pm on News Press Radio AM1290 and AM1440.


About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.


  1. The sad part is that this scenario is quite common at the Federal level as well, with ALL taxpayers being taxed to provide ‘Crony Capitalism ‘Subsidies or ‘Tax Credits’ to purchase ‘Green Energy’
    vehicles, as well as for the manufacturers of these vehicles. This would extend into ‘Solar’ energy users and manufacturers, and ‘Wind’ energy users and manufacturers as well.
    The American taxpayers are being fleeced by the politicians picking who will succeed or fail.
    Unfortunately, it is something that IF it were economically feasible,
    taxpayer monies would not be required to be squandered in supporting it. Capitalism would prevail.

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