Corporatisation of US green energy: a double-edged sword worth billions.

Guardian: “There’s a popular meme that surfaces on green energy blogs, forums, and Facebook pages. The gist is that large corporations love oil and gas because they can own and control it. They’re against renewable energy because no-one can own the sun or wind. The problem for anti-corporate green-energy campaigners is, increasingly: the meme isn’t true.”
“As the materials for producing wind and solar energy become cheaper, tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy increase, and the prospect of finding more oil and gas becomes weaker, corporations are entering the green energy landscape to the tune of billions of dollars.
Last month, NRG, one of the US’s largest energy companies with 100 power plants across the country, including plants that run on coal and natural gas, finalized details in its bid to buy Alta Wind Energy Center in California, the largest wind farm in North America, for $800m.
It was the latest blockbuster renewable energy deal by a large corporation in recent years.
There’s the under-construction 560 megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California, which is owned jointly by NextEra Energy – an energy conglomerate that makes about $15bn a year mostly from gas and nuclear plants, GE, and Sumitomo – a Japanese company that gets most of its billions from mining, oil and gas production. And there’s the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar Farm, owned by MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s multi-billion dollar empire which is also heavily invested in coal and oil.
Even Google, Microsoft and Apple are getting into the game. All three companies announced plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into wind and solar this year.
….To some, the investment is a double-edged sword. Environmentalists fear that green energy may now be going the same way as organic food – becoming an industry that uses the language and imagery of a social movement to sell products that benefit multi-billion dollar corporations, and not necessarily the communities they serve.
….Companies invested $214bn in green energy globally last year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the United Nations Environment Program. That’s 14% less than was invested in 2012, but analysts believe that has more to do with falling costs of renewable energy generation than with a lack of interest in the industry. Tellingly, clean energy share prices were up 54% last year, and while investments in small, private energy firms tumbled by 46%, public renewable energy companies (ie big companies), saw their equity double to $11bn in just one year.
That shows investors are more sure of seeing profitable returns from large-scale energy investment than from small start-up energy projects, according to the report.
….“These large companies are coming in and competing for the same state and local incentives that we are,” Schoolman said. “You’ll see it all the time. Often there’s no more money for projects because a few plants came in and sucked up all the incentives.”
And in some cases, big energy companies are actively trying to quash the kind of community-based energy production that many green activists favor. Arizona’s largest electric company APS is investing heavily in renewable energy, but it’s also lobbying heavily to makeinstalling solar panels on rooftops less affordable.”