The Washington Free Beacon reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been working to secure sweetheart deals for Chinese green energy firms. Specifically, Reid reportedly has been pulling strings behind the scenes on behalf of ENN Mojave Energy, a Nevada subsidiary of the Chinese-owned ENN Group.
After more than two years of secret negotiations beginning in 2009, lawmakers in Clark County, Nevada agreed to sell 9,000 acres of public land to ENN for the bargain price of just $4.5 million ($500 per acre) in December 2011. The land had been previously appraised for between $30 million and $39 million.
It is not clear why ENN received such a steep discount. However, it seems clear that Reid was involved:
In April 2011, [Reid] led a delegation of senators to China, where the lawmakers met with senior Chinese officials and toured a number of green energy facilities, including the ENN headquarters in Langfang, China. Upon his return, Reid called on the United States to pursue “new opportunities to collaborate on and advance clean-energy deployment here and abroad.” Several months later, ENN chairman Wang Yusuo spoke at Reid’s clean energy summit, calling for a “more open and comprehensive” partnership between China and the United States on green energy.
ENN shrewedly hired Richard Bryan, formerly Reid’s fellow Senator from Nevada, to represent it in negotiations with state and federal officials. By a strange coincidence, it turns out that Harry Reid’s son Rory is a partner at Bryan’s law firm.
Asked about Harry Reid’s involvement in assisting the Chinese company in its Nevada endeavors, Bryan responded:
Senator Reid has actually gone to China, has actually had visits with the chairman of ENN, the entire global enterprise, has actually taken a look at some of their developments there. It would seem to me that Senator Reid would exercise his persuasive powers on behalf of the state of Nevada.
Reid’s persuasive powers undoubtedly have been exercised. But does Nevada benefit by offering a sweetheart deal, essentially a land giveaway, to a Chinese company? According to the Free Beacon, NV Energy, Nevada’s largest utility provider, says it’s not even in the market for renewable energy at this time, citing the higher costs of solar power and the fact that it has already exceeded the state-mandated quota for renewable sources through 2014. Reid’s response has been to threaten to close down on of NV Energy’s coal-fired power plants.
Reid’s efforts on behalf of Chinese energy companies are not confined to the state of Nevada. In 2010, Reid was involved with lobbying efforts to secure $450 million in stimulus funding for a Chinese-owned energy company to build a wind farm in Texas, even though most of the turbines and other components would be manufactured in China.