Issues

Green Energy Firm Accused of Ripping Off Treasury to Get More Taxpayer Money

Geothermal binary pwoer plant
Geothermal binary pwoer plant / Wikimedia Commons

A green energy company accused by two former employees of filing fraudulent applications for federal grant money will receive additional subsidies to research geothermal energy, the Department of Energy announced on Tuesday.

The company, Ormat Geothermal, will help lead a team of researchers in Nevada that will receive a chunk of the $2 million DOE has set aside for geothermal research in five states.

DOE will distribute another $29 million for the second phase of the project, according to the Associated Press.

Ormat is currently fighting allegations by two of its former employees that it lied about its finances in order to obtain green energy grant money from the Treasury Department, the Washington Free Beacon reported last month.

Tina Calilung, Ormat’s former asset manager, and Jamie Kell, its former business development administrator, say that the company routinely and knowingly falsified documentation and manipulated balance sheets in order to obtain and keep 1603 financing.

"To date Ormat has received at least $136,791,964.00 in 1603 payments through fraudulent and/or false 1603 grant applications," their lawsuit claims.

"Not only did Ormat wrongfully obtain the 1603 funds, but Ormat continues to file false certifications pertaining to the success, viability and operation of the geothermal projects that received grant funds so as to prevent the funds’ recapture. Ormat additionally continues to make false public statements claiming its use of funds obtained from the Government were appropriate."

The suit seeks damages under the False Claims Act, the federal government’s foremost tool to recoup money wrongly paid to contractors and other private entities.

Despite its legal problems, Ormat continues to enjoy the backing of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.). Reid has bragged about securing federal backing for the company, whose chairman has donated thousands of dollars to Reid’s campaign.