Prop. 23 Foe Profits From 'Dirty Coal'

OCT. 28, 2010


NO on 23 backer and Democrat Tom Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management Company holds stock in “dirty coal,” nuclear, and oil and gas companies, and in a Chinese solar panel supply company that potentially would rob jobs from Californians, even as the NO on 23 campaign blasts Prop. 23 backers for similar investments.

So-called powerhouse Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who has donated $5 million to defeat Prop 23, which would suspend green power in California, runs an investment firm that holds stock in “dirty coal” and nuclear plants, oil and gas companies in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.  Additionally, Steyer’s investment firm holds stock in the leading photovoltaic solar panel supplier in California, Yingli Green Energy Holding Company of China.

Steyer’s firm, Farallon Capital Management Company, also is an external fund manager for CalPERS.

The campaign against Prop 23 has contended that “Dirty Coal” and a bunch of Texas oil refineries are behind Prop 23 to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act in California (AB32 – not to be confused with Prop. 23).  But until now California’s mainstream media have failed to reveal what the economic interests of the NO on 23 donors and high profile supporters are.  It ends up that the major backer of NO on Prop 23 manages a portfolio of “dirty energy and nuke” stocks, mainly for colleges and CalPERS.

Moreover, the NO on 23 backers have contended that California would lose thousands of green jobs during a Depression if California’s Green Power law were suspended.  But Tom Steyer, the major donor to the NO on Prop 23 campaign, runs an investment firm that has invested in a leading Chinese photovoltaic solar panel supply company – Yingli Green Energy Holding Company – that will take numerous potential jobs away from California and domestic U.S. solar suppliers.

SEC filing

According to the June 30, 2010, Form F-13 Filing with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for Tom Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management Company, the firm is holding the following energy stocks in its portfolio:

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company an all-green photovoltaic solar panel manufacturer in China. Yingli Green Energy Americas has been selected to provide solar modules for 16 solar power installations at several Kaiser Permanente hospitals and office facilities across California.

Following a trend of other solar panel manufacturers, any Yingli Green Energy factory built in the U.S. is likely not to be in California but in Texas or Arizona. Yingli Green Energy announced in July, 2010, that it is postponing its plan to build a solar panel factory in either Texas or Arizona.  The Federal government has approved a $4.5 million tax credit for its proposed facility.  The relative weakness of the Euro against the U.S dollar means that European customers wouldn’t pay for more expensive panels from a U.S.-based Yingli factory.  Europe is Yingli’s biggest market.

Farallon also holds stock in NRG Energy that provides energy from “clean” solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, coal (yes “Dirty Coal”) plants in Texas, Louisiana, California, and in the State of Arizona (home of the controversial SB1070 anti-immigration law).

Another holding of Steyer’s Farallon Company is Ram Energy Resources, an oil and natural gas company in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Sandridge Energy is an Oklahoma City based company dealing in oil and natural gas as well as the treatment and transportation of C02 (carbon sequestration).

CalPERS external fund manager

In 2009, CalPERS demanded better terms from its external fund managers, such as Farallon Capital Management Company, and also stated that it wanted better disclosure of securities held in their funds.   Reportedly, CalPERS had money with Farallon but redeemed (repurchased) that investment in 2009.  The CalPERS’ Total Fund Quarterly Report for June 3, 2010, still shows Farallon as an external fund manager.

Farallon shifting from real estate to green energy

According to the Wall Street Journal, Farallon suffered severe losses during the real estate meltdown and is apparently now shifting some of its investments into green energy.

Appearance of Republican opposition to Prop. 23

Tom Steyer recruited Republican “icon” George P. Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, State, Labor, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Republican administrations, to support the No On 23 effort.  This has given an appearance of Republican opposition to Prop 23.

However, it has not been revealed that Schultz is on the advisory board of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Institute at Stanford that is partly funded by Tom Steyer’s Tom Kat Center for Sustainable Energy.

The founder of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Institute is Jay Precourt, formerly of Halliburton (former CEO Dick Cheney), who runs Scissor Tail Energy, a natural gas pipeline company headquarter in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Energy Sources are fungible, prices are not

Electrical energy is fungible which means that a number of different fuels and technologies (oil, gas, hydro, coal, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) can function as substitutes.  They all can produce electrons that can go into the electrical grid.

However, hydro-power and coal power are typically the cheapest, with natural gas being of intermediate price and wind, solar and geothermal being the highest priced (including infrastructure costs).

Should an energy provider be able to knock out a competitor, such as cheap coal power, using California’s Green Power law, then oil and natural gas prices would probably rise substantially.

Without cheap hydro and coal power to keep oil and natural gas prices in line, it is likely that electricity rates would rise. Since the price of energy is loaded into the prices of food, transportation and many other economic goods and services, rampant inflation would likely be the result of eliminating coal power from the energy mix.  Hydropower is explicitly banned as “clean” energy under California’s Green Power law even though it emits no pollution.

Under California’s green power law those holding stocks in oil and gas and clean, renewable power providers would likely thrive while stocks in cheap coal and hydro-power and refineries would apparently suffer.

No less CO2 under cap and trade

Under California’s green power law (AB32), the reduction in carbon pollution would be zero.  This is because California’s green power law contains a cap-and-trade provision.  California is also part of the Western Climate Initiative that also has a cap-and-trade clause.  Any savings made by reducing “dirty coal” permits other energy providers to raise their emissions under a cap-and-trade scheme.

Prop. 23 and Prop. 32 confusing

The California Secretary of State has made the voting on Prop. 23 unnecessarily confusing by transposing the numbers 23 and 32 in Prop 23 (that suspends California’s green power law) and Assembly Bill 32 (AB32 — the green power law). For clarification, those wanting to vote for suspending the green power law in California should vote yes on Prop. 23 — a yes vote is no on green power and vice versa.

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